Clark Gillies dies aged 67, four-time Islanders Stanley Cup winner


Clark Gillies, who provided the New York Islanders with a physical presence and a shot on goal during their dynasty in the early 1980s, died Friday. He was 67.

“The National Hockey League mourns the loss of Clark Gillies, a tower of strength on the ice for the dynastic New York Islanders of the early 1980s and a pillar of the Long Island community ever since,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “Gillies helped define the term ‘power forward’ during a 14-season Hall of Famer career with the Islanders and Buffalo Sabers, highlighted by winning four straight Stanley Cups with the Islanders.

“His 319 goals and 378 assists in 958 NHL games — and his 47 goals and 47 assists in 164 Stanley Cup Playoff games — reflect his talent. The adoration and admiration of his teammates reflected the heart and passion he brought to our game. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and countless friends and fans.”

The Islanders finished Gillies’ No. 9 at Nassau Coliseum on December 7, 1996. The forward was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.

“The entire Islanders community is devastated by the loss of Clark Gillies,” said Lou Lamoriello, Islanders general manager. “He embodied what it means to be a New York Islander. The pride he felt wearing the Islanders sweater on the ice was evident in his willingness to do anything to win. Off the ice he was just as present and always made 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 organization from Gillie’s family.”

Gillies’ death was announced by the islanders after a 4-0 home win over the Arizona Coyotes.

“I think when you talk about Clark, Clark has a relationship with so many guys who cut their teeth with the Islanders,” said New York coach Barrydios. “He was larger than life. When you thought of Clark Gillies, you thought of Islander. There’s no doubt there’s no gray area. Charismatic, he played the right way, part of the community. Anything you think of an Islander, too being a good teammate, being a fantastic person, all those things.

“My heart sank when I was told I was coming off the ice. He will be missed, he really will.”

Gillies was born on April 7, 1954 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He played for the Islanders from 1974-75 to 1985-86 after being selected in the first round (No. 4) of the 1974 NHL Draft.

Gillies played 872 games for New York (fifth in Islanders history) and averaged 663 points (304 goals, 359 assists), fourth in their history.

Gillies was one of 17 Islanders players to win four straight Stanley Cup championships from 1980–83. He was also a member of the group that set the NHL record 19 straight playoff wins.

“These guys are the foundation of what the team and the organization is about,” says Islanders Rock Nelson said. “Everyone remembers the four cups, the runs they had, all these guys. A lot of these guys have stayed here and made this place their home and the island has embraced them.”

As a rookie, he had 47 points (25 goals, 22 assists) in 80 games and scored at least 30 goals in each of the following four seasons.

In the second half of the 1976-77 season, his third in the NHL, Gillies replaced Ed Westfall to become the second captain in Islanders history. He held the role until the start of the 1979–80 season when defender Denis Potvin took over.

“Every time you’ve met ‘Clarkie,’ it’s been a wonderful experience Anders Lee said. “He lived and breathed Islander Hockey, and my heart goes out to his family and all his friends and the people he’s touched since he’s been here on the island. It’s a sad day.”

Riding the top line with Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy, Gillies helped New York win its first of four straight championships in 1980 and started the playoff series winning streak that lasted through the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals lost it to the Edmonton Oilers.

Despite being one of the toughest players of his time, Gillies never had 100 penalty minutes in a season; His NHL best was 99 in 1980-81 when he had 78 points (33 goals, 45 assists). The following season, he scored an NHL career high with 38 goals.

Gillies played his last two NHL seasons with the Sabers, who claimed him from waivers. He retired after the 1987–88 season.

“It’s tragic, to be honest,” the islanders said Matt Martin said. “Clarkie has always made a great effort to welcome players into the organization. I think he embodies everything a New York Islander is. He walks into a room, he’s charismatic, he carries a room.

“I remember when I first met him I always thought, ‘This is what I want to be when I grow up.’ He is just an amazing person very sad and unhappy and I speak for the whole organization when I say my hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to the family he has a wonderful family and he has so much to offer with his A community done foundation that we’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of over the years and he will live on in this organization forever. He just represents everything that makes a New York Islander.” Deputy Editor-in-Chief Brian Compton contributed to this report


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