The late Garnet “Ace” Bailey’s legacy lives on in Edmonton, thanks to his grandson, Edmonton Oil Kings forward Kaid Oliver.
For one game only, Saturday when the Oil Kings hosted the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Western Hockey League action, Oliver wore a No. 16 jersey with “Bailey” on the name bar in tribute to his grandfather, who played for the Oil Kings more than half a century ago.
“It’s definitely going to stay with me for the rest of my life,” Oliver told The Hockey Writers during an interview prior to the game. “It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of.”
While the Oil Kings lost 6-5 in a shootout, Oliver certainly did his grandfather’s name proud. The 21-year-old scored his ninth goal of the season, went 16-for-24 on faceoffs, led Edmonton with six shots on goal, and was named the game’s third star.
A Life in Hockey
Thoughts of honoring Bailey began a year ago when Oliver was traded to the Oil Kings from the Victoria Royals and started researching his grandfather’s time in Edmonton.
“It seems like everybody that’s met him or played with him has some sort of story that they’ve brought with them about him,” Oliver said. “Just hearing those is pretty cool.”
Bailey helped the Oil Kings reach the Memorial Cup in 1965, win the Memorial Cup in 1966, and was Edmonton’s leading scorer for 1966-67 when he potted 47 goals and totaled 93 points in 56 regular-season games.
The Boston Bruins drafted Bailey 13th overall in 1966, and he made his National Hockey League debut with them in 1968-69. The forward was a member of Boston’s Stanley Cup-winning team in 1972 when he scored the winning goal in Game 1 of the championship series against the New York Rangers.
Bailey went on to play for the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, and Washington Capitals. His finest season was split between Detroit and St. Louis in 1973-74 when he totaled a career-high 58 points (19 goals, 39 assists) in 71 games. He played his last season with Washington in 1977-78, finishing his NHL career with 278 points (107 goals, 171 assists) in 568 games over 10 regular seasons.
He returned to the Alberta capital, joining the Edmonton Oilers for their final season in the World Hockey Association before becoming part of the NHL. Bailey helped the Oilers reach the 1979 Avco Cup championship series, which Edmonton lost to the Winnipeg Jets.
Upon retiring, Bailey began working in 1981 as a scout for the Oilers and was part of the organization for all five of its Stanley Cup championships (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990). After more than a dozen years with the Oilers, he became a scout for the Los Angeles Kings.
Bailey worked for L.A. until he tragically passed away aboard United Airlines Flight 175 during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Kings’ mascot “Bailey” is named in his honour.
A Grandfather’s Legacy
Oliver was born Jan. 24, 2000, in White Rock, B.C., and spent parts of his youth in Oregon and Arizona. He began his junior career with Victoria in 2016-17 and totaled 57 goals and 71 goals in 234 games over four WHL seasons with the Royals.
This season, Oliver has scored the third most goals for the Oil Kings, who, at 13-1-0-1, are first in the WHL for points percentage (.900). The team’s hopes of contending for a Memorial Cup were officially dashed last week with the cancellation of the 2021 Canadian Hockey League championship tournament.
Oliver’s junior eligibility is up at the end of the season, and while he won’t become the second member of his family to win a Memorial Cup with the Oil Kings, that doesn’t mean he’s finished following in Bailey’s footsteps.
“I want to play in the NHL … and obviously, on top of that, I want to win the Stanley Cup,” Oliver said. “With my grandpa winning it, I’ve got an opportunity to see it before and see his name on it, and I think that would be a pretty cool thing to get my name on it one day.”
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.