When left wing Garnet “Ace” Bailey joined the Capitals in a trade from St. Louis in February 1975, he was enjoying the best season of his NHL career on a playoff-bound team - and found himself on the league’s worst team in mid-season.
After recording 15 goals and 26 assists for 41 points in 44 games with the Blues, Bailey, along with Stan Gilbertson, were dealt to the lowly expansion Capitals for Denis Dupere on Feb. 10, 1975. At the time of his arrival in Washington, the Capitals had earned only four wins in 54 games.
At only 26, Bailey was already an NHL veteran, having spent six seasons in the NHL with Boston, where he was a member of the 1972 Stanley Cup championship team, Detroit and St. Louis. He joined a Capitals roster of unproven youngsters and aging journeymen and helped the team double their win total in their 26 remaining games, scoring four goals and 13 assists. Bailey would go on to play four seasons with the Capitals, his last NHL team, appearing in 207 games and recording 43 goals and 71 assists.
Although the Capitals never qualified for the playoffs during his tenure, the team improved to 24-42-24 in 1976-77, his third season, when he scored 19 goals and 27 assists, ranking him fourth on the team in scoring.
After leaving the Capitals as a free agent following the 1977-78 season, Bailey played parts of to seasons in the WHA and CHL. After retiring, he coached the CHL’s Wichita Wind for one season before becoming a scout. At the age of 53, while serving as the Los Angeles Kings’ director of professional scouting, Bailey was killed aboard United flight 175 in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.