Even when the Islanders are winning 8-1, you’re not going to see Jack Capuano crack a smile behind the bench.
On the other hand, when you put the Head Coach behind a blackjack table, it’s a whole different story.
“A lot of guys like to play cards and I’m one of them,” Capuano said. “I try to keep the hands moving quick, try to get more hands in here and the people seem to like it. I love interacting with the people. Blackjack is a lot of fun, so I’m enjoying myself.”
Riverboat Jack was wheeling and dealing Tuesday night, as the Islanders held the fourth annual ICF Casino Night. Donning tuxedos and blue bow ties, Islanders players and coaches were working the tables, taking bets, dealing cards and holding court with some of their most loyal fans.
“A lot of guys are in their elements,” said Josh Bailey, who was spinning the roulette wheel, but is more of a poker player at heart. “It’s great for us to meet the fans and be ourselves, have some good conversations, relax and open up a bit. It’s fun.”
That’s really the spirit of Casino Night. It’s a chance to interact, swap stories, clink glasses and tear down the walls that exist between player and fans.
“It’s a personable event,” said Ryan Strome, who was also dealing blackjack on Tuesday. “It’s good to have that interaction. As a fan, they want to connect with you and as a player, we want to connect with them. It’s a great night and we all enjoy it.”
It’s all for a good cause too, as as the event raised over $175,000 for the Islanders Children’s Foundation. Big ticket items included live auctions for a game-worn John Tavares’ all-star jersey and a road trip with the team.
“It was a tremendous event,” Community Relations Manager Ann Rina said. “We raised a lot of money for a great cause and everyone had fun doing it. The ICF was the big winner tonight.”
Chateau Briand played the part of Caesar’s Palace on Tuesday, offering an elegant backdrop for the black-tie gala. From velvet jackets and traditional tuxes to stunning floor-length dresses, the guests at Casino Night kept pace with the tuxedo-clad dealers.
Add in the spread – steaks, pasta, sushi for dinner, tiramisu and other pastries for desert – the live band and MC’s Shannon Hogan and Chris King, and it’s easy to see why the event sells out every year.
“It’s a great time,” Dan Marcote, a longtime Islanders fan, said. “First off it’s for charity, so you know it’s great. Food’s good, drinks are good and Chateau Briand never lets you down. Everyone is so friendly, taking selfies, signing anything you want, the team is so accommodating, it’s just a great event.”