NEWPORT BEACH — Mark Smith, the center for the San Jose Sharks, stood on the stage in a dark corner of the Blue Beet Café, strumming an acoustic guitar and belting out lyrics in a demented, nasal whine.
"I'm drowning in my own self-loathing," he sneered over a pulsating beat provided by his two-man band. "But it feels so good/Just like it should."
In his black T-shirt and jeans, the lead singer of the Vinyl Trees was barely recognizable as a hockey player. Two of his friends — Dustin Penner of the Anaheim Ducks and Joffrey Lupul of the Philadelphia Flyers — blended with the crowd in plain clothes. The Blue Beet was populated Thursday night with superstar athletes, but the night was about camaraderie, not competition.