Greatest Oil Kings, Number 1

This fall I’m going to do about 25 or so of these, maybe two a week. Idea being that the Edmonton Oil Kings are back, and there is a rich history of junior hockey in this city.

Beginning Thursday night, junior hockey is back in town. It’s a terrific time to be a hockey fan in our city, and as time goes on I’ll probably be posting on the new players and the Oil Kings in general.

For now, a look back.

This is Garnet “Ace” Bailey. He was born June 13, 1948 in Lloydminster. He died on September 11, 2001.

The following article appeared in the March 4, 1967 Hockey News and was written by Alex Hardy.

There is no way Garnet “Ace” Bailey can miss making the National Hockey League. Just ask him. On some young athletes, Bailey’s kind of confidence seems like a facade, incompletely hiding natural fears and insecurities. But 18-year old Ace Bailey wears his confidence like a custom-made suit. It fits. And it makes him look good.

Bailey is the brightest star on the star-studded Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings, and is a prime reason the outlaw Canadian Major Junior Hockey League is a box office success at the midway mark of the schedule. Bailey leads the Oil Kings with 42-41-83 in 48 games. Playing with an effortless style, Ace gives the impression he can score anytime the thought strikes him. And he has had the thought often enough to rank among the junior circuit’s five top point getters.

He has everyone in the Oil Kings organization supporting his argument. The supporters start with Bill Gadsby, the 20-year veteran of NHL wars who quit after the 65-66 season to accept the Oil Kings coaching position at a reported $15,000 per year. “Right now, Bailey is still somewhat of a raw physical specimen,” says Gadsby. “But he has every quality needed to be an outstanding big leaguer. His attitude is good, he has size and he likes the rough going. And with age on his side, he’s going to be a heck of a player.”

Gadsby admits that the smooth skating forward still has some edges that need polishing. “For one, he’s got to shoot more often, and he tends to keep just one hand on his stick. But these things will come.”

Bailey, who carries 175 solid pounds on a 5-11 frame, gained minor league experience in Lloydminster, on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. He came to the Oil Kings when he was 16 and immediately showed flashes of potential. “But his desire to use his talent used to be lacking,” said Don Scott, asst to Oil Kings GM Bill Hunter. “I’m happy to say his attitude has improved every year. Playing under someone like Bill Gadsby has been a maturing factor in itself,” Scott adds.

Garnet Bailey ended the 66-67 season with 47-46-93 in 56gp. He would turn pro the following year and play for the Boston Bruins 68-73 (playing on the Big, bad Bruins with Orr) before beginning a journeyman NHL career. He won a SC with Boston, scoring a huge goal against the NY old time Ranger fans still remember. He played 568 NHL games, scored 107-171-278 and played for the Oilers in the WHA toward the end of his playing career. He played on a line with Gretzky with Edmontonin 78-79.

A few other notes:

  • Selected 13th overall by Boston Bruins in 1966 NHL amateur draft.
  • Won Memorial Cup with Edmonton Oil Kings in 1966.
  • Won Calder Cup (AHL championship) with Hershey Bears in 1969.
  • Won Stanley Cup in 1970 with Boston, but did not get his name on the SC.
  • Won Stanley Cup in 1972 with Boston.
  • Selected by Alberta in WHA General Player Draft, Feb. 12, 1972.
  • Traded by Boston Bruins to Detroit Red Wings with future considerations (Murray Wing, June 4, 1974) for Gary Doak, March 1, 1973.
  • Traded by Detroit Red Wings to St. Louis Blues with Ted Harris and Bill Collins for Bryan Watson, Chris Evans and Jean Hamel, Feb. 14, 1974.
  • Traded by St. Louis Blues to Washington Capitals with Stan Gilbertson for Denis Dupere, Feb. 10, 1975.
  • He won a SC with the Oilers in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988 as a pro scout, but his name did not appear on the Stanley.
  • He won a SC with the Oilers in 1990 as a pro scout, this time his name appeared for a second time on the Stanley.
  • Became director of pro scouting for Los Angeles in 1994 and remained in that position until his death.
  • The Los Angeles Kings renamed their annual most inspirational player award the Ace Bailey Award in Bailey’s memory.
  • Killed in plane crash after terrorists hijacked his flight from Boston to Los Angeles and deliberately crashed it into one of the World Trade Center towers.

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6 Responses to "Greatest Oil Kings, Number 1"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Fuck, I forgot that Ace Bailey was on that flight.

    Great post LT – why did he not get his name on the Cup in ’70? What was his role on the 72 team?

  2. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: He played for the Bruins during the regular season 69-70 but didn’t play any in the playoffs. Dumb rule, but there you go. Don Awrey had the same thing happen with the Habs later in the decade.

    In order to tell the story of that goal, I have to set the scene. Rangers and Bruins, two best regular season teams met in the final.

    First game was April 30, 1972 in Boston. Rangers score first, and then the Big bad Bruins storm the Ranger net and score 4 times in the first period and then another midway through the second.

    So it’s 5-1 Boston midway through the game. However, the Rangers are a really good team and they score once before the end of the second and then popped three more in the first ten minutes of the third.

    Picking up the commentary from the book STANLEY CUP: New York fired in a burst of goals to tie the game 5-5, midway through the third period. But there was no Boston collapse: Garnet Bailey feinted around Brad Park and rammed the puck between Ed Giacomin’s legs for the goal that won the game 6-5.

    Bruins went on to win in 6.

    His role was as a checking winger, very gritty, who scored some goals here and there. He was a good NHL player.

  3. Black Dog says:

    I can’t remember – did you read the Brunt book? On Orr, I mean.

    I seem to recall that you did – if not, pick it up. You’d enjoy it.

  4. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: Yeah, read the Orr book. Loved it.

  5. Black Dog says:

    Not sure if you were ever into boxing – I’m way past it now but watched quite a bit in the 70s (I was just a kid but my Dad and Grandpa enjoyed it and of course you could get it on regular TV).

    Anyways – Facing Ali – also by Brunt. Read it this summer – 15, iirc, interviews with Ali opponents.

    Great stories, well written. If you like sports, a good read.

  6. Rube Foster says:

    Great way to start the Greatest Oil Kings.
    You know Ace Bailey was no well…Ace Bailey, but he was a good NHLer and everyone who ever played with him seemed to love him, including Gretzky. By all accounts he was a real character player and real charater in the dressing room. There’s a great story about him cutting down a tree from his backyard and using it as Christams tree then putting it back in the yard when Christmas was over. Thanks for details on the Rangers goal. Everyone seems to remember the Boston and Montreal teams from the 70′s but the Rangers and the Black Hawks had outstanding teams in the early 70′s that time seems to have forgotten.
    Great post Lowetide, keep em’ coming.

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