The hockey community, especially those in New York, has lost one of the greats. New York Islanders legend Clark Gillies has passed away at the age of 67, the team announced late Friday night. Gillies spent a dozen seasons in New York to begin his career and wrapped up his playing days with a pair of seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. Since retiring in 1988, he has worked closely with charities on Long Island, including his own Clark Gillies Foundation, and has stayed involved with the Islanders club.
Gillies is best remembered as a key piece of the Islanders early-1980’s dynasty that won four consecutive Stanley Cups. Gillies played an integral role in each title, recording 250 points in 302 games in those regular seasons and 47 points in 66 postseason games as well. Gillies was the fourth overall pick by the Isles in 1974 out of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and the WHL’s Regina Pats and jumped immediately into the NHL. It didn’t take long for him to find his groove, recording career-best seasons of 85 and 91 points in 1977-78 and 1978-79. For his career, Gillies notched 697 points in 958 games, only topped by his 1,025 career penalty minutes. The epitome of a power forward, the 6’3″ Gillies was notoriously tough to play against in all three zones. A physical net front presence, especially on the power play, and menacing checker, it was easy for Gillies’ teams to score when he was on the ice and far more difficult for the opposition, as evidenced by a whopping +245 rating for his career. The two-time First Team All-Star had his No. 9 retired by the Islanders in 1996 and was a 2002 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee.
The Islanders, in announcing the sad news of Gillies’ passing, including a statement from GM and fellow Hall of Famer Lou Lamoriello:
The entire Islanders community is devastated by the loss of Clark Gillies. He epitomized what it means to be a New York Islander. The pride he felt wearing the Islanders sweater on the ice was evident by his willingness to do anything to win. Off the ice, he was just as big of a presence, always taking the time to give back to the local community. The New York Islanders have four Stanley Cups because of the sacrifices he and the members of those dynasty teams made for the franchise. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Gillies family.
Many more have released statements sharing their condolences and expressing their appreciation for the role that Gillies played in a number of hockey communities, including NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, WHL Commissioner Ron Robison, Pittsburgh Penguins great and close friend Mario Lemieux, and many former and current Islanders. It is clear that the charismatic and caring Gillies made a major impact on many lives.
We here at PHR extend our condolences to the family, friends, and many fans of Clark Gillies.