(Photo Credit: bostonbruinsalumni.com)

By: Steve McClure | Follow me on Twitter / X @stmcclure1993

Today would have been Garnet ‘Ace’ Bailey’s 76th birthday. The former Boston Bruin left-wing died while aboard United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The plane had been hijacked by Islamist terrorists and purposefully driven into the building. He was 53 years old at the time of his death.

Ace helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 1972. Over the course of the ‘72 Cup run, he scored two goals and collected six total points. He was a regular during the 1970 season—another championship year—as well, but he did not make a roster appearance during the playoffs that season. 

“You know, Ace was a great talent,” according to teammate Gerry Cheevers. “The times when we’d scrimmage, and Bobby (Orr) decided he didn’t want the puck, Ace had it most of the time.” Bailey left an indelible mark on his teammates for his wit and comradeship. He also was a fan favorite. “I remember all the kids who used to come in for our morning skate,” Cheevers said. “Ace was always the guy playing with them on the ice … he loved ‘em.”

Bailey spent close to five full seasons in Boston before being traded to Detroit in March of 1973 for defenseman Gary Doak. During his time in Boston, he scored 31 goals and added 46 assists for 77 points. However, his statistics do not tell the full story of the teammate, nor the man.

“Ace had a great feeling for people, a great feeling for kids. He loved kids and he could tell if a kid was a good kid, or needed some help, whether he had the ability to make it or the makeup to make it. He had a knack for it,” Cheevers shared days after the 9/11 tragedy. Bailey’s family founded the Ace Bailey Children’s Foundation in his memory. The foundation raises funds to benefit hospitalized children, infants and their families.

Bailey’s longest professional tenure was with the Bruins, but he also played for Detroit, St. Louis, and Washington, as well as playing one year with Edmonton in the WHA.  He is one of a select few to play on the same team as NHL legends Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky.

At the time of his death, Bailey was the Los Angeles Kings’ director of pro scouting. Ace Bailey is survived by his wife Katherine, his son Todd, and Todd’s son Evan Garnet Bailey.

*Special thanks to Mike Loftus of the The Patriot Ledger for the Cheevers quotes.