Saturday, September 11, 2010

Garnet "Ace" Bailey

"Every team should have an Ace Bailey...He's not going to score you 50 points every year but he made up for it in different ways, being an Ace Bailey, a real character." This is a quote from Boston Bruin teammate John Bucyk form the website . Garnet Bailey (no relation to the original Leaf) had in many ways what can be described as a storybook hockey career. His life was cut short on Sept. 11, 2001 when he was onboard flight 175 that struck the World Trade Center. By this point in his life, Bailey was Head of Pro Scouting for the Los Angeles Kings and was on his way to L.A. for the start of training camp on that fateful day.

Bailey was drafted by the Bruins 13th overall in 1966 and would play one more junior year scoring 93 points for the Edmonton Oil Kings. By the age of 20 he was a point per game player with the AHL's Hershey Bears and would stick in the NHL the following year. Perhaps his greatest moment in the NHL would come in game 1 of the 1972 Stanley Cup Finals against the Rangers. Bailey beat Brad Park and Eddie Giacomin on a solo effort rush for the game winning goal. This play was immortalized by singer Gord Downie in a song appropriatley titled "Ace Bailey" on his album The Battle of the Nudes in 2003. At the end of the track, the audio call of Bailey's goal is palyed as well as a quick post game comment from Ace himself.

After hoisting the Cup with Orr and Espo, Bailey went on to play with Detroit, St.Louis and Washington twice scoring as many as 19 goals in a season. In 1978/79, he ended up with another all-time great in the WHA as Bailey was roommate and mentor to 17 year old Wayne Gretzky.
Bailey helped acclimatize the youngster into the big league way of life, and helped The Great One deal with his longtime fear of flying.
When the Oilers moved to the NHL, Bailey tried his hand at coaching in the Edmonton system with Wichita in the CHL. He soon moved to the scouting department and was instrumental in building and sharing in five Cup victories. In 1994 Bailey followed his pal Gretz to Los Angeles to run their pro scouting department.
Today, the Ace Bailey Children's Foundation helps to enhance the happiness of hospitalized children and their families. As teammate Wayne Cashman is quoted on the foundation's website, "Children all felt they were special to Ace, and you know, they were."

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