Have a heart.
It’s a simple enough idea, but it takes work.
No better example than Tuesday night at Brasaii, a sumptuous Toronto restaurant/nightclub and the site of the Leafs annual Have a Heart Dinner.
The event is a fundraiser for Team Up, MLSE’s charity arm and for one night, it was the stars who did the serving.
Leaf players and their spouses manned stations such as the Smokes Poutinerie where Phil Kessel
could be spotted surreptitiously sneaking French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Players and coaches mixed with the crowd as well as manned serving stations.
Tomas Kaberle, the longest-standing member of the team, said he never tires of the event.
“We’ve been doing it for so many years,” he said. “People in the stands do so much for us on the ice, this is a chance to do something for the community. We do a lot of things, building rinks so kids can play hockey, raising money to fight Cancer. It’s all good work.”
“The charity work is a big part of what we are about,” said Leafs’ President and General Manager Brian Burke. “There’s so much for us to do in the community aside from what we do on the ice. Players understand first thing when they come here that it’s expected of them.”
The event included a number of military personnel gifted with tickets.
Tracey Zimmerman, a sergeant at CFB Kingston, saw a notice asking for the base’s hardest working soldier. “I was thrilled when I won,” she said. “I’ve been a Leafs’ fan all my life.”
Season ticket holder Ron Preyra and his brother Jeff say the event is a touchstone of their past. “There were 10 kids in our family and we would watch every Leaf games,” said Ron.
“We came from India in 1968,” said Jeff before breaking into a wide grin.
“Hey, maybe we’re the problem.”
The evening also included auctions for such items as a rare George Armstrong autographed jersey, golf sessions and a day as a Raptors ball boy.