For Immediate Release
February 7, 2024
The Western Canada Professional Hockey Scouts Foundation will be honouring someone close to the scouting fraternity with the Ace Award. The foundation announced today that the Ace Award, in honour of the late Garnet (Ace) Bailey, will be presented annually to a member of the scouting fraternity or someone involved with the scouting community for contributions above and beyond what may have been expected. The first recipient will be honoured at the Foundation’s inaugural banquet that is scheduled for Okotoks, Alta., on July 29.
Glen Sather, who had a long association with Bailey while both were in the Edmonton Oilers’ organization, will make the presentation. Sather, now a senior advisor and alternate governor with the New York Rangers, also will speak to the induction of former Edmonton scouts Lorne Davis, Barry Fraser and Kevin Prendergast into the Foundation’s Wall of Honour. Sather was the head coach of the WHA’s Oilers in 1978-79; Bailey played 38 games for the Oilers that season. Bailey later was a pro scout for the NHL Oilers for 13 seasons (1981-94), while Sather was president, GM and head coach. Sather was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997. He worked alongside Ace during their 5 Stanley Cup championships with the Edmonton Oilers and had a real strong relationship with him.
Bailey, a native of Lloydminster, Sask., was a former NHL player who had a 20-year scouting career, split between the Oilers and Los Angeles Kings. He was the Kings’ director of pro scouting when he died aboard the plane that crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. He was 53.
“There are a lot of people inside and outside the scouting community who go above and beyond to not only do the job but assist in ways that make the job a lot easier,” said Foundation president Erin Ginnell. “We want to honour those people and who better to name such an award after than Ace Bailey? “Ace went above and beyond not only at the rink but also away from the game. He gave the ultimate sacrifice to the job on 9/11 and we’d like to honour him for that and who he was, not only as a scout but as the person he was.”
Bailey’s playing career included 568 regular-season NHL games over 10 seasons split between the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals. He also played one season with the WHA’s Edmonton Oilers (1978-79) when his roommate on the road was a freshman centre named Wayne Gretzky. “He reminded me so much of my dad,” Gretzky told The Athletic’s Dan Robson on the 20th anniversary of Bailey’s death. “He was like my best friend. Like a brother. My second dad.” Bailey won two Stanley Cups as a player (Bruins, 1970, 1972) and five while scouting with the Oilers (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990). He also won a Memorial Cup (1966) with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He joined Edmonton’s scouting staff in 1981, then moved to the Kings in 1994. He had been their director of pro scouting for seven years.
Since its formation more than a year ago, the Foundation has been working to make the Ace Award a big part of its platform. “Ace enjoyed spending time with his hockey scout family,” his widow, Kathy, said. “I’m sure he would be honoured to know that the award will be presented in his name.”
The Bailey family has kept his name alive through Ace’s Place, a playroom at Tufts Children Hospital in Boston. “Kathy Bailey wanted it that way,” Robson wrote. “She wanted her husband to be remembered for the heart he had for others — especially children. He was the one with the hilarious Daffy Duck impressions, which always amused his nieces and nephews. He was Santa Claus at Christmas and the Easter Bunny each spring. He visited sick children often during his days as a beloved member of the Bruins.” There also is an Ace’s Place in the pediatric emergency room at Tufts.
Bailey also was immensely popular throughout the scouting fraternity. “Ace was undoubtedly one of the most popular individuals within our fraternity during his years of scouting at the NHL level,” said Garth Malarchuk, the chairman of the Foundation’s board of directors. “He was very respected for his accomplishments and successes within the hockey world. There was always lots of humour and laughter when Ace was around; he was such a fun person to be around. No question that it tore a piece out of everyone who knew Ace on the day we lost him during the terrorist attacks. That was a sad, sad day and a tragic loss.”
The Western Canada Professional Hockey Scouts Foundation in a non-profit organization comprising NHL scouts from Western Canada and a group of committed individuals from the hockey community. It feels a strong obligation to honour scouts, past and present, and a commitment to give back to charities, communities and individuals who could benefit from the support and financial assistance.
Erin Ginnell, WCPHSF president
Garth Malarchuk, WCPHSF chairman of the board
Gregg Drinnan, WCPHSF editor and historian