Horse named in honor of Kings scouts killed in 9/11 tragedy makes its first start today

With today marking the 9th anniversary of the terrible events on September 11, 2001 the hockey world reflects on two of their own that were lost in the events of that day. Garnet “Ace” Bailey and Mark Bavis were on United Airlines flight 175, one of two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. Both Bailey and Bavis were working for the Los Angeles Kings as scouts and were on their way back to Los Angeles from Boston that morning to prepare for the start of the season.

Today, their memory is marked in one of the more peculiar ways in the form of a race horse named Aces Mark making its first start at Belmont Park, an ironic twist that wasn’t intended to be.

Long-time Ottawa Senators scout Lew Mongelluzzo will skip the first day of the team’s prospect tournament in London, Ont., to attend the race at Belmont. He operates Team Power Play Racing, which owns Aces Mark, and will be thinking of his former colleagues on the ninth anniversary of their death.

“There’s no better word for it than bittersweet,” Mongelluzzo said Friday. “As much as you get excited about the race–we feel the horse is doing well and going to perform well–it takes a split second to remember everything that’s gone wrong and why we’re here.

“The reality is that it’s not a happy time.”

No one will ever forget what happened on that day, and having the hockey world be all the more entangled in what happened that day makes the day all the more painful for everyone connected to the game. I’m sure all of us will be pulling for Aces Mark to come away with the win today.

If you’re hoping to make a positive contribution on this day, visiting the websites set up in honor or Bailey and Bavis like the Ace Bailey Children’s Foundation and Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation each have wonderful charities in which to support.

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    Streaking Blues get Stastny back tonight

    UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Paul Stastny #26 of the St. Louis Blues skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 6, 2014 in Uniondale, New York. The Blues defeated the Islanders 6-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Saturday’s loss to Buffalo notwithstanding, St. Louis has been on fire lately under new head coach Mike Yeo. The Blues are 7-2 in their last nine, and will get a big piece of the lineup back this evening when they host Florida at Scottrade.

    Paul Statsny, who’s missed the last four games with a lower-body injury, will draw in for the first time since Feb. 9, per NHL.com’s Lou Korac.

    What’s more, Stastny will be immediately reunited on the club’s top line between Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.

    Stastny had been on fire since the dismissal of former head coach Ken Hitchcock, racking up six points over his last five games played (in which the Blues went 4-1-0).

    The 31-year-old currently sits fourth on the team in assists and points, while averaging 19:25 TOI per night, so he’s clearly a big part of the St. Louis attack. And based on his form prior to getting hurt, it was clear things were clicking with Steen and Tarasenko — which should make for an exciting test tonight against the red-hot Panthers.

    Sens recall pair of forwards in wake of multiple injuries

    Ottawa Senators' Mark Stone (61) lies injured on the ice after being hit hard by Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba (not shown) during third period NHL hockey action in Ottawa, Sunday Feb. 19, 2017. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    The Ottawa Senators have called up some reinforcements from the AHL.

    Forwards Casey Bailey and Max McCormick are on their way to the big club, in the wake of Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Jets that saw Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Tommy Wingels all leave with injuries.

    The Sens also went into yesterday’s game without winger Bobby Ryan, who’s out indefinitely with a hand injury.

    No word yet on the status of Hoffman, Stone, or Wingels, but head coach Guy Boucher wasn’t all that optimistic yesterday.

    “It doesn’t look good,” Boucher told reporters. “We have to wait until tomorrow to be clear and precise but right now we could be losing quite a few guys.”

    The Sens kick off a four-game road trip tomorrow in New Jersey. They currently sit second in the Atlantic Division, but not that far ahead of Boston, Toronto, and Florida.

    Related: Jacob Trouba will have a hearing for head shot on Mark Stone

    Kings’ Robitaille named chairman of German League club (Updated)

    2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final – Game Six
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    Kings legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille has added a new role to his front office portfolio.

    Robitaille, currently serving as L.A.’s president of business operations, has been named as the chairman of Eisbaren Berlin, one of the most storied clubs in Germany’s top league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

    Berlin is owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group, the same outfit that owns the Kings. The two clubs have a fairly long history with each other, though this Robitaille appointment is part of what sounds like the biggest cooperative initiative to date.

    UPDATE: The Kings have confirmed the development, with added information…

    The Los Angeles Kings will now oversee all operations of Berlin Eisbaren Hockey, it was announced today at a news conference at Mercedes-Benz Arena.

    Eisbaren Berlin of the German Ice Hockey League and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League are owned and operated by AEG Sports, a division of the Anschutz Entertainment Group. The LA Kings will now begin leading all hockey operations and administrative matters, directing the day-to-day leadership of Managing Director Peter John Lee.

    “The results the last few years in Berlin have not been the championship standards that we all expect,” said Robitaille.  “It became clear that our relationship needs to go beyond collaboration and move to a complete connection to ensure the team and organization has what it needs to return this club to the type of team our fans expect and have demonstrated passionate support for.”

    From the Eisbaren Berlin website (translated):

    “This is an important day for the polar bears Berlin,” said Eisbären CEO Peter John Lee. We have been interacting with Luc Robitaille and LA Kings for a long time. In the new constellation we have the leadership of the LA Kings directly on board the polar bears, so we can work even more intensively to turn the polar bears Berlin into a championship team again.”

    (At this time, probably worth noting the team’s nickname translates to polar bears.)

    Former Kings farmhand Alex Roach currently plays for Berlin, and the team is coached by Robitaille’s former teammate in Detroit, Uwe Krupp.

    Who has the best and worst special teams in the NHL?

    Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) celebrates with teammates after scoring a power play goal against the New York Islanders during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    If the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs, special teams will be one of the big reasons why.

    Three quarters of the way through the season, the Leafs boast the NHL’s top power play, and their ninth-ranked penalty killing isn’t too bad either.

    When the PP and PK are combined, Toronto has the best special teams in the league, followed closely by the Bruins, Blues, and Capitals.

    Here’s how all 30 teams rank (best and worst PP and PK in bold):

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    As you can see, the bottom of the list is full of teams who will miss the playoffs. The Stars’ penalty killing has been particularly dreadful. In fact, Dallas is on pace to have the worst PK of the salary-cap era.