Clark Gillies, Islanders legend and hall of famer, dies at 67

Clark Gillies Islanders
Clark Gillies
Photo courtesy of the New York Islanders

Clark Gillies, the Hall-of-Fame power forward, New York Islanders legend, and four-time Stanley Cup champion, died on Friday, the team announced at the age of 67. 

“The entire Islanders community is devastated by the loss of Clark Gillies,” Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “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.”

Gillies spent 12 of his 14 NHL seasons with the Islanders, selected by the team fourth overall in the 1974 draft, where he would go on to record 304 goals and 663 points — both ranked fourth in franchise history. He was also an integral part of an Islanders team that won four straight Stanley Cups — the last great North American sports dynasty — from 1980-1983.

The Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan native worked alongside fellow Hockey Hall of Famers Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy on one of the most formidable lines in NHL history known as “The Trio Grande.”

He was inducted into the National Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002, roughly six years after his No. 9 jersey was retired by the Islanders.

“The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Clark Gillies,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “A tower of strength on the ice on for the dynastic New York Islanders of the early 1980s and a pillar of the Long Island community ever since.”

Gillies never left Long Island after his playing days, which finished with two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. He was a constant spectator at Islanders games, connecting a newer generation of supporters to the team’s most successful era — constantly spending time with fans with a warmth and joy that gave off the feel like he was everyone’s favorite uncle. 

“He was bigger than life,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “You saw Clark Gillies, you thought Islander.”

“I think he epitomizes everything that being a New York Islander is,” Matt Martin added. “He walks into a room, he’s charismatic. He carried a room.

“I remember when I met him for the first time and I always thought, ‘That’s who I want to be when I grow up.’ He’s just an amazing human being.”

He began The Clark Gillies Foundation, a non-profit corporation developed to help children who are physically, developmentally and financially challenged. The Huntington Hospital Pediatric Unit on Long Island was named after Clark and his foundation, which raised $1 million dollars to help fund the construction of the unit.