|Garnet "Ace" Bailey and Mark Bavis both lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Just as it did to so many, that horrible day hit the Boston hockey community hard. But as the world of hockey always seems to do, those affected by this tragedy banded together to bring good out of evil and continue to celebrate and honor the lives of the loved ones lost on that day.
Former Boston Bruin Garnett “Ace” Bailey and former Boston University player and coach Mark Bavis, both scouts for the Los Angeles Kings at the time, were traveling to Kings training camp that morning and were aboard United Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center.
Also, Madeline “Amy” Sweeney was the heroic flight attendant who called American Airlines, notifying them that Flight 11 had been hijacked and provided key details on the hijackers. She was the sister-in-law of former Bruin and NHLer Bob Sweeney.
In the aftermath of September 11, the families and friends of all three victims raised funds and helped create charities to honor the lives of Bailey, Bavis and Sweeney. Six years later, those charities have proven to be a success and over the past few days, those who knew these victims took time to discuss the good they created in their names.
To honor his sister-in-law, Sweeney, who spent 11 seasons in the NHL, decided to use the contacts he built through his career to raise money for the “Massachusetts 9/11 Fund” (http://www.massfund.org), a charity for the families of Massachusetts natives lost on 9/11. Eventually, the state created an award in Madeline “Amy” Sweeney’s name that is given annually to a person that exemplifies civilian bravery.
“I wanted to help my brother in any way I could and honor my sister-in-law’s name, so I used all my contacts and helped raise money for this fund through fundraisers and golf tournaments,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney had just retired from hockey in the spring of 2001 and ironically the work he did in honor of Amy and at those various charity events, helped shape his post-hockey career. Sweeney is now the Director of the Boston Bruins Foundation, directing all charity-related activities by the team.
“I had just retired in April of 2001 and didn’t really know what I was going to do at the time,” he recalled. “I started doing all these events and helping out, and I think it really helped prepare me for my new role with the Bruins.”
Bavis’ name and legacy also has been preserved by his family and friends through the Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation (www.markbavisleadershipfoundation.org). Through charitable donations, this foundation raises money for grants to be used for school tuitions and extracurricular activities for young men and women.
“The Mark Bavis Leadership was born out of Mark’s devotion to young men and women who are willing to work hard in their pursuit of success,” says the foundation’s website. “Mark devoted much of his life to the development of young men and women, encouraging them to follow their dreams.”
Immediately following his death, Bailey’s family and friends created the “Ace Bailey Children’s Foundation” which, in the words of its website, (www.acebailey.com): “honor and perpetuate the memory of ‘Ace’, who had an enormous zest for life and a special love for all children.”
Since it’s inception in 2002, Bailey’s sister, Barbara Pothier, and the foundation have used the funds raised to create “Ace’s place”, a 6,500 foot play room for young cancer patients at the New England Medical Center’s “Floating Hospital for Children” wing.
Hall of Fame defenseman Brad Park was a friend, opponent and colleague of Bailey as a NHL scout. Reached by phone recently, Park recalled that fateful day six years ago and couldn’t think of a better way to honor the rugged winger, but gentle man off the ice that Bailey was than “Ace’s Place”.
|Recently Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts paid a visit to "Ace's place", at the New England Medical Center's "Floating Hospital for Children" wing.
Park couldn’t believe Bailey, with such a great zeal for life and the game of hockey was gone. But he believes that “Ace’s Place” is a perfect way to keep Bailey’s spirit alive.
“He was hard-nosed and passionate on the ice, but his passion off the ice was people, especially children,” said Park, who once coached a youth hockey team with Bailey. “He really loved kids, especially those less fortunate, so this is a great way to honor him. They’ve done a great job over there and it’s nice to see.”
Just as it has been for the last five years, The Madeline “Amy” Sweeney Award was given to a Massachusetts resident yesterday. The Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation continues to raise funds to help young men and women achieve their dreams and Monday, a group of Boston Bruins visited “Ace’s Place” and read books to the children there.
Six years later the spirits and ideals of Madeline “Amy” Sweeney, Mark Bavis and Garnet “Ace” Bailey live on.
Camps start up -- All Northeast teams begin training camp this week and it appears the defending Eastern Conference champion Ottawa Senators are still the team to beat, at least according to Sabres GM Darcy Regier.
"We're the division champions and they're the conference champions and they really didn't lose too many players," Regier said. "They have their core intact and they look as good as last season."
Bruins wheeling and dealing -- Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli has been very busy re-shaping his team via trades this off-season. Monday, Chiarelli completed his fourth trade since June, dealing prospect Ben Walter and a conditional draft pick to the Islanders in exchange for Petteri Nokelainen, a Finnish forward who was drafted No. 16 overall in the 2004 Entry draft.
Chiarelli also acquired goaltender Manny Fernandez, and forwards Peter Schaeffer and Carl Soderberg in separate deals over the course of the summer. He has, however, been able to keep the core of Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and Phil Kessel together.
Cashman loved ‘The Man in Black’ -- Legendary musician Johnny Cash passed away four years ago today and that made this scribe and fan of the “Man In Black” think of a story former NHLer Wayne Cashman once told at a charity event. Cashman who was also affectionately known to his friends and teammates as “Cash” was apparently a huge fan of Johnny Cash.
During his career with the Bruins, Cashman had a brief encounter with Cash after a practice at the old Boston Garden. Cash was arriving to tune up for a show at the Garden that night. When “Cash” and Cash met, the former asked for an autograph, but realized he had nothing to sign. He turned around and grabbed the closest stick on the rack and handed it to Cash.
Cashman still has that stick, and the original owner of the stick was also a legend: Bobby Orr.
That’s one nice collectible.