Clark Gillies, Rugged Star of Islanders Championship Teams, Dies at 67

Clark Gillies, the tough Hall of Fame left-winger who helped the Islanders win four consecutive Stanley Cup championships in the early 1...


Clark Gillies, the tough Hall of Fame left-winger who helped the Islanders win four consecutive Stanley Cup championships in the early 1980s, died Friday at his home of Greenlawn on Long Island. He was 67 years old.

His wife, Pam, said the cause was cancer.

Gillies played alongside fellow Hall of Famers Bryan Trottier at center and Mike Bossy at right wing on a line known collectively as the Trio Grande. Their Islanders won the Stanley Cup championship every year from 1980 to 1983 with a body of young players.

At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, and sporting a black beard, Gillies struck an imposing image for a trendsetter of his time. He was particularly adept at forcing opposing players out of his way into their corners, then digging in the puck and passing it to Trottier or Bossy for a shot on goal. But Gillies was an outstanding goalscorer in his own right.

Playing with the Islanders for 12 seasons, from 1974 to 1986, he scored 304 regular season goals and had 359 assists. His 663 points are the fourth in Islanders history. After two seasons with the Buffalo Sabers, he retired with a total of 319 goals and 378 assists.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.

The Islanders, who retired Gillies’ No. 9 in December 1996 in a ceremony at the old Nassau Coliseum, held a moment of silence for him ahead of their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at UBS Arena on Saturday night. . They shone the spotlight on his jersey hanging above the rink, and Islanders players wore his number as a crest on their uniforms.

“He made life easier for everyone who played with him,” said Butch Goring, a center for the Islander Championship teams and now a broadcaster for the team., recalled before the game. “Trottier and Bossy could do whatever they wanted to do because they had the big guy on the wing.”

Clark Gillies was born on April 7, 1954 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the son of Donald and Dorothy (Clark) Gillies. His father was a salesman in a department store. At age 7, Clark began skating in youth hockey leagues, but he also played baseball.

The Houston Astros, who scouted him during a tryout in Saskatchewan, signed him as first base receiver with their minor league team in Covington, Virginia. Bob Bourne, whom Gillies had faced in youth baseball in Saskatchewan, was one of Gillies’ underage players. league teammates and later became his Islander teammate.

“They gave me three years to develop” Gillies told the New York Times in 2011, recalling his passage among minors. “Then they said we thought you had a future in baseball.” But Gillies recalls, “I played baseball two months a year and hockey nine or 10 months. I excelled more at hockey than at baseball. I said thank you but no thank you. Hockey has always been first and foremost.

Gillies joined the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League and played on the team that won the 1974 Memorial Cup, which is awarded to Canada’s major junior champions.

He was selected by the Islanders in the first round (fourth overall) of the 1974 NHL Draft without having played in a professional hockey game. He established his toughness as a rookie when he beat Philadelphia Flyers “enforcer” Dave Schultz, and later beat Boston Bruins thug Terry O’Reilly in a series of fighting in a playoff game.

Gillies became captain of the Islanders in the second half of the 1976-77 season, but handed over that role to Denis Potvin in the 1979-80 pre-season.

The Islanders dynasty began when they defeated the Flyers for the 1980 Stanley Cup championship. They beat the Minnesota North Stars, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers in all three Stanley Cup Finals later, then lost to the Oilers in the 1984 Cup Final.

Gillies remained a popular figure on Long Island long after his retirement. While working in the financial world, he stayed in touch with island players and established the Clark Gillies Foundation, which helps children who have physical, developmental or financial difficulties. He also helped fund the construction of the pediatric unit at Huntington Hospital.

In addition to his wife, Pam Goettler Gillies, he is survived by his daughters Brianna Bourne, married to Bob Bourne’s son, Justin; Jocelyn Schwarz; and Brooke Kapetanakos, as well as eight grandchildren.

For all his badass reputation, Gillies has never incurred 100 penalty minutes in a season. His high was 99 in 1980-81 when he scored 33 goals and 45 assists.

“People want me to run across the ice hitting anything that moves,” Gillies told The Times in February 1982. “But that’s not me. If a teammate needs me, I’m there and the guys know it and the opponent knows it. I can fight if I have to, but I just prefer to play hockey.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Clark Gillies, Rugged Star of Islanders Championship Teams, Dies at 67
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