The Darkest of Days
None of us will ever forget where we were on this date 14 years ago. Nearly 3,000 people dies in the largest act of terrorism in United States history. Despite being the direct victim of the attacks, the United States was not the only nation affected, as the dead came from 61 distinct nationalities. Though the targets of the attack were financial, military, and political (assuming Flight 93 was intended to strike the White House or Capital as many believe), no segment of society was untouched. Even those of us who had no acquaintances among the injured or dead felt the gut punch of that infamous day. Though sports pale in comparison to the events of that day, the world of hockey was affected that day, and a look at that might bring us closer to the tragedy. This post is in honor of Garnet "Ace" Bailey, Mark Bavis, and all those who were affected by the evil acts of the perpetrators.
Garnet "Ace" Bailey (no relation to the former Maple Leafs star) was born in Lloyminster, Saskatchewan on Jun 14, 1948. Though not a superstar, Bailey put together a successful career, playing 10 seasons with the Bruins, Capitals, Red Wings, and Blues, and one season with the Edmonton Oilers in the WHA. He was a member of the Bruins teams that won the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972, and worked for the Oilers as a scout during their dynasty period, having his name engraved on the Cup three times in that position. Eventually he was hired by the Los Angeles Kings and rose to the position of director of pro scouting, a title he held at the time of his death.
Mark Bavis was born in Roslindale, Massachusetts on March 13, 1970. He was drafted by the New York Rangers in the ninth round of the 1989 entry draft. After four seasons playing for the Boston University team, he spent three seasons playing professional hockey with the Fredericton Canadiens and Providence Bruins of the AHL and the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. Following a couple of stints as an assistant coach with Harvard University and the Chicago Freeze of the NAHL, he took a job as a scout with the Los Angeles Kings, which would prove to be his final job.
On September 11, 2001, Bailey and Bavis boarded United Airlines Flight 175 to fly from Boston to Los Angeles to attend the Kings' organizational meeting. Little did any of the innocents aboard the flight know the evil that boarded with them, or the fate ahead of them. Among the 65 people on board the plane were Marwan al-Shehhi, Fayez Banihammad, Hamza al-Ghamdi, Ahmed al-Ghamdi, and Mohand al-Shehri.
At 8:14 AM, Flight 175 took off from runway nine of Logan International Airport. Due to suspicions about the ill-fated American Airlines Flight 11, Flight 175 was ordered to turn to avoid the other plane at 8:37. Minutes later, at some time between 8:42 and 8:46, shortly before Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the terrorists stormed the cockpit and took control of the plane. En route to its own target, the plane nearly collided with two other planes, forcing an air traffic controller to issue orders to a Delta Airlines pilot to take "any evasive action necessary."
The passengers of the flight would soon meet their tragic end as the terrorists aimed their projectile at the remaining unscathed tower in lower Manhattan. Many people on the ground were focused on the World Trade Center site because of the smoke already pouring out of the North Tower. At 9:01, those witnesses saw a heart-wrenching sight, when Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. The video of the collision and explosion is now etched in stone in many of our memories.
Sometimes good things can arise from tragedy. Determined not to see their loved ones deaths be in vain from the tragedy they experienced, the families of Bavis and Bailey saw to it that something good did come. Bavis's family began the Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation to provide tuition grants for young people "allow deserving young men and women to enjoy opportunities and experiences similar to those which contributed to Mark the person that he was." Bailey's family started the Ace Bailey Children's Foundation "to honor his memory and to perpetuate his deep caring for the happiness of children through our work," by "[reducing] the stress of pediatric hospitalization by creating environments that are less clinical in appearance and more comforting and soothing for children and their families."
Eleven years later, in 2012, the Los Angeles Kings made a miracle late season run to squeak into the playoffs with the eighth seed. A second miracle run followed, and against all odds, the team that formerly employed Bailey and Bavis hoisted the Cup. Not willing to see their former colleagues be forgotten, the team saw to it that the Stanley Cup was taken to the 9/11 memorial in New York, and placed on top of their names "so that the families of Bailey and Bavis could [have] their day with the Stanley Cup."
The victims of United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 11, American Airlines Flight 77, United Airlines Flight 93, as well as those on the ground or in buildings at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon should never be forgotten. I hope that in remembering the stories of Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis we will remember all of the victims of that darkest of days. May we never forget...