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The story behind the photo of the Stanley Cup at the 9/11 memorial

October 15, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Mark Bavis' sister, Kathy Bavis Sylvester, and Ace Bailey's widow, Kathy Bailey, hold jerseys to represent their respective family members.
Mark Bavis' sister, Kathy Bavis Sylvester, and Ace Bailey's…

Sometimes, there's a story behind the story -- or in this case, behind the photo that accompanied a blog.

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi and the Hockey Hall of Fame made a classy gesture Sunday when they brought the Stanley Cup to the 9/11 memorial in Manhattan and posed it next to the engraved names of Mark Bavis and Ace Bailey, the two Kings scouts who were killed when United Airlines Flight 175 was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center. The Bavis and Bailey families attended the event, as did Lombardi and several Kings scouts who knew Bavis.

The Cup keeper, Mike Bolt, was kind enough to send a few photos of the event, and one in particular struck me. It's of two women, one holding a Bavis jersey and the other holding a Bailey jersey, standing in front of the memorial. Each woman had on her face an expression of pain and sorrow, but each also had a glimmer of something I couldn't describe. Maybe pride mixed with what I can only hope is some form of peace.

I asked Bolt if he knew who they are, but he apologized and said the day was so chaotic that he didn't get their names. The Times -- and many other websites and newspapers -- ran the photo Sunday night with a caption saying the women were family members or simply saying that Bavis and Bailey were honored in a ceremony at ground zero. But I needed to put a name to the faces, and I called Lombardi to see if he knew. He put me in touch with Kings scout Steve Greeley, who identified the women as Bavis' sister, Kathy Bavis Sylvester, and Bailey's widow, also named Kathy.

"It meant a lot to us, but you could also see how much it meant to the family," Greeley, who knew the Bavis family well, said Monday by phone. "It’s a very moving place, and the whole presentation was more moving than I anticipated."

Lombardi said the families went in to see the memorial first and then were joined by the rest of the Kings' group and the Cup.

"The one thing that was the most neat, the sister had said they had never been to ground zero before and said, 'We have no interest in going there. The only way we'd ever go there would be in a celebration mode for these guys with the Stanley Cup.' And she wasn’t kidding," Lombardi said. "This was an incredibly emotional day for them. This is the first day that any of them had been there.

“To hear them say that, and I can’t speak for them, but I think it might have helped them come to terms with it a little bit. When you stay away from something, sometimes it just builds and you've got to confront it at some point. That's probably the biggest thing I took out of it. This might have helped with the healing process, so to speak, and it wouldn't have happened without that type of event. They wouldn't have done it without the Stanley Cup. It was pretty neat from that perspective. That's the one thing that resonated with me the most.”

Lombardi said the group spent about four hours at the site.

"It really started drawing a crowd, but it wasn’t an unruly crowd," he said. "It was kind of weird. Usually you bring the Cup in and you get that whole thing. But this was different. Everybody understood why they were there, so they were respectful. It was pretty special. I didn’t expect it to have that type of impact."

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