Kings miss Ace

Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2001

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Glen Murray walked into the Los Angeles Kings' training camp Wednesday knowing he wouldn't be greeted by a close friend.

Garnet ''Ace'' Bailey always came into the dressing room with a friendly greeting each morning, ready to joke around with the players.

Bailey, 53, the team's director of pro scouting, and Mark Bavis, 31, an amateur scout, were aboard one of the hijacked airplanes that terrorists crashed into New York's World Trade Center on Tuesday.

They left Boston on their way to Los Angeles for the start of training camp.

''September comes around and we usually see him here every day and he's always got a smile on his face,'' Murray said, still speaking in the present tense about Bailey.

Murray was 19 when he met Bailey in Boston, where Bailey played on the Bruins' Stanley Cup championship teams in 1970 and '72. Their friendship continued in Los Angeles, where Murray came to the Kings five years ago and Bailey scouted for seven years.

His position didn't require Bailey to be in close contact with the players already on the Kings' roster, but he made himself part of their insular world.

''He loved to be around the guys and hit the golf course after every training camp day,'' Murray recalled. ''He'd tell us how he shot the next day and be really lying just to get a laugh out of us.''

A day after the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history, the Kings continued with the second day of training camp and their first on the ice in El Segundo. A uniformed security guard was posted outside the rink located just south of Los Angeles International Airport, which remained closed.

''Ace and Mark are both hockey people,'' coach Andy Murray said. ''What they both would be saying is get the hell out there and play.''

So the Kings did.

Players were assigned to white and black teams for a three-period scrimmage with referees. Skaters with white jerseys wore black bands on their left arms to honor Bailey and Bavis.

But working up a sweat during an aggressive practice didn't offer much relief.

''There's always that emptiness. Not just so much for us, but so much for New York City and the whole nation,'' said center Bryan Smolinski, who also knew Bailey from his time in Boston.

''It hits home when you got two guys that are on their way and you can actually see the plane going into the building,'' he said. ''It's devastating and you don't know how to feel. We've been talking about it all day.''

Murray and general manager Dave Taylor, who was especially close to Bailey and Bavis, met briefly with the team Tuesday night. Murray tossed aside his scheduled remarks about the upcoming season and talked about the two scouts. Taylor broke down as he spoke.

''Ace was certainly a social director on our staff,'' Murray said. ''He was always teasing and bugging guys. Mark was so excited we picked two of his guys (in the June draft).''

Bavis, who played college hockey at Boston University, was starting his second season scouting college players for the Kings.

A teen-age Wayne Gretzky was a teammate of Bailey's in Edmonton during the late 1970s. Bailey played 11 seasons in the NHL, including stints with Detroit, St. Louis and Washington.

''Ace may not have been the greatest hockey player to play in the NHL, but he taught many players how to win championships and more importantly, he was a winner as a person,'' Gretzky said in a statement. ''We will all miss him greatly.''

Bailey served as advance scout, supplying detailed information on upcoming opponents, during Edmonton's run of five Stanley Cup championships in the 1980s.

The Kings had not decided Wednesday whether they will go ahead with their first preseason game Saturday against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks at Staples Center.

''The world got a little smaller yesterday and we're all at risk,'' said defenseman Mathieu Schneider, a native New Yorker whose wife wanted him to stay home with her Tuesday.

''Everyone's going to be thinking in that frame of mind for awhile. It's sad we have to live that way.''

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