If anybody knows about Stayin’ Alive, it’s the Ottawa Senators.
The hockey team boogied its way down to the Westin hotel over the weekend for this year’s Senators Soirée: Saturday Night Fever. All the players, coaches and management arrived fresh from the team’s 5-2 afternoon home game win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Awaiting them was a tux-wearing, sequin-embellished crowd of 650 business and community leaders at the disco-themed gala. Together, they raised $271,835 to help many thousands of children and youth in our community gain better access to physical, mental wellness, social and recreational programs.
As is tradition at the annual Sens Soirée, all the members of the team were introduced, one by one, before walking across the stage. They were accompanied by their wives or girlfriends, all of whom looked dy-no-mite, as the 1970s catchphrase goes.
Barbara Crook and her husband, Dan Greenberg, took to the main stage on behalf of Ferguslea Properties. It owns and operates the west-end residential rental community Accora Village and is a long-time sponsor of the Ottawa Senators Foundation's signature gala, along with Bell telecommunications giant.
Crook and Greenberg are also well-known philanthropists in Ottawa and passionate fans and supporters of the Ottawa Senators. Their favourite game day sign is: "Win or lose, we love our Sens."
“If you’re paying attention only to the standings you’re not getting the true picture of this year’s team,” Crook told the audience. “We have so many exciting young players and we have great leadership on the ice and behind the bench. There’s no shortage of heart and there’s no shortage of hustle, and that’s how Dan and I define a great team.”
Crook, who's also on the board of the Ottawa Senators Foundation, encouraged the crowd to: “Party like it’s 1977!"
The crowd heard briefly from the team’s alternate captains: Mark Borowiecki, Matt Duchene, Zack Smith and Mark Stone, as well as from Ottawa-born, Gatineau-raised player Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He playfully said, in French, that he was going to say a few things because none of the captains had yet to speak a word of French in their remarks.
Next up was Borowiecki.
“I’m not sure what Jean-Gabriel said but it sounded offensive, so I’ll be talking to you next practice,” he jokingly warned his teammate as the audience erupted into laughter.
“Here in Ottawa,” Borowiecki continued, “We’ve all had the opportunity to get to know and see the kids in our community who are less fortunate than us. I think it’s so important for us to give back and to help create opportunities for these kids to succeed. That’s our responsibility.”
Attendees included Ottawa Senators Foundation president and CEO Danielle Robinson and Business Council of Canada president and CEO Goldy Hyder, who’s also head of the board for the foundation.
"What we’ve done as an organization is brought real focus to children and youth, both physical and mental health as well, which I think is a real indication of where kids find themselves today and the issues that they face," Hyder told OBJ.social. "Tonight is a chance to acknowledge the fact that it's the community that is raising these funds for the kids in of our community, and it's only made possible because the club is here."
Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion was there. So were head coach Guy Boucher and Senators Sports and Entertainment chief operating officer Nicolas Ruszkowski, who welcomed everyone from his position on the centre stage, standing beneath the giant, sparkling disco ball.
Guests dined on a three-course dinner of beef tenderloin fillet, bid on a large selection of auction items, and had the opportunity to bust out their best Travolta-inspired dance moves on the dance floor as the Disco Inferno band performed.
Morning radio host ‘Stuntman’ Stu Schwartz from Majic 100 embraced the party theme, right down to the biggest, baddest ‘70s hair for his role as auctioneer.
Deep-pocketed bidders could win a private helicopter ride of the national capital region with Pageau and friends, courtesy of Brigil’s Gilles Desjardins; a private dinner for 10 with the Ottawa Senators alternate captains at Club Red; and a friendly day of shinny against the Senators Alumni on the outdoor rink at Chris Phillips’s farm.
Also sold off were lower-level suite tickets to upcoming concerts at the Canadian Tire Centre, an opportunity be in the front row of the official Ottawa Senators team photo, and a 45-minute practice — perfect for a minor hockey team — to be led by the Sens coaches at Canadian Tire Centre.
As well, the live auction included: a diamond necklace from Howard Fine Jewellers, a fishing trip from Rising Sun Charters, with meals and accommodations at Brookstreet Hotel, and the chance to travel with the team to an away game. Additionally, guests could bid on a video game battle at the Canadian Tire Centre against Sens players Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot.
Prizes included a one-week stay at the Grand Isle Resort & Spa in Exuma, Bahamas, donated by Peter Nicholson from Foundation WCPD; a pair of Air Canada tickets to any North American destination; and six months’ worth of premium parking at the Ottawa airport.