TORONTO -- Smashfest was born out of tragedy, but has grown into a huge success.
Each summer for the past five years, NHL players past and present have gathered in Toronto to show off their table tennis skills in a charity tournament hosted by Dominic Moore, an unrestricted free agent who played with the New York Rangers last season.
Smashfest V was held Thursday, with money raised going to The Katie Moore Foundation and The Steve Moore Foundation. The event has raised more than $500,000 over the past five years, according to the NHL Players' Association.
The Katie Moore Foundation, which helps fund the search for cures for rare cancers, is named in honor of Dominic's wife, who died of liver cancer in 2013. The Steve Moore Foundation focuses on the prevention and treatment of concussions and serious head injuries in sport. Steve Moore, Dominic's brother, had his career cut short by a head injury after playing parts of three seasons with the Colorado Avalanche.
Why table tennis? It's a dressing room pastime NHL players often enjoy before and after practice, and many take it rather seriously.
"Pingpong is a huge part of locker room culture," Moore said. "More and more guys are in it to win it. We now have five guys who have brought their own custom paddles in their own little carrying case. Those guys are here to win."
Derick Brassard, who was traded to the Ottawa Senators by the Rangers on Monday, said he looks forward to a competitive game of table tennis against his teammates.
"You have to have a lot of skills to play the game," Brassard said. "In New York we used to play a lot."
Patrick Eaves of the Dallas Stars won the tournament for the second straight year.
Moore said it's a win-win when players can convene at the table and raise money for good causes.
"This is about awareness and a collaborative effort with everyone coming together for a common purpose," Moore said. "We can't believe it is the fifth year for this. It has grown. The thing about this event is it starts with … trying to make an impact on some neglected and underfunded causes. But when you're here you aren't thinking about that. You're just having fun. That's our mission, to have everyone leave here with a smile on their face."
Eric Lindros, recently elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, said table tennis was a big deal when he played in the NHL.
"A lot of the European players played pingpong a lot after practice, so everyone got involved and it was fun," Lindros said. "We have to stay on top of things; we have to come up with solutions. We need to send money in for research because research will give us a tangible recourse for these situations."
Lindros and his brother, Brett, each had his career cut short because of concussions.
"Any help that can go that way is fantastic," Lindros said.