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New York Islanders Clark Gillies Belongs in Hall of Fame

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 13: Former New York Islander Clark Gillies is honored prior to the game against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 13, 2014 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 13: Former New York Islander Clark Gillies is honored prior to the game against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 13, 2014 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders forward Clark Gillies is a Hall of Fame player. He doesn’t have the stats of a Bryan Trottier, but he was just as important.

When people are asked who they’d take out of the Hockey Hall of Fame there are always a few players that make everyone’s list. One is Edmonton Oilers Grant Fuhr, the next on the list is generally New York Islanders forward Clark Gillies.

The fourth overall pick in the 1974 NHL draft, Gillies certainly stands out against some of the elite players inducted into the hockey hall of fame. He doesn’t have the points totals of a Bryan Trottier 1,425). He doesn’t have the goal numbers of a Mike Bossy (573).

In fact, he has less than half the points that Bryan Trottier has and just over half the goals that Mike Bossy has. So why is he in the hall of fame exactly? Because he was the best at what he did.

The Power Forward

It’s important to remember the era in which Clark Gillies played in. The late 70’s to the late 80’s were a tough and violent period in the sport of hockey. Having someone on your team who could hit and fight was vital.

Gillies was that guy. At 6’3″ and 215lbs, he was a big tough player, perfectly suited for the NHL in that period. A guy like Gillies could allow the more skilled players to do what they do best.

That’s exactly what happened.

Paired with the talents of Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy, Gillies was instrumental in the careers of both. Trottier and Bossy were given time and space with a player like Gillies on the ice. And they both flourished, becoming true NHL superstars.

But still. Why Gillies? In terms of power forwards he isn’t close to the points-per-game that Eric Lindros (1.13) or Tim Kerr (1.03) put up. So why does he get in?

Because hockey is still a team sport, and team accomplishments matter. Especially when that accomplishment is the Stanley Cup. Sure, being nominated to the Hall of Fame is an individual accomplishment, but your impact to your team matters.

The trio Grande of Trottier, Bossy, and Gillies along with some other key pieces brought the New York Islanders four Stanley Cups in four straight seasons. Something that has only been done three times in the NHL’s history.

Clark Gillies was the best at what he did. Intimidate the opposition, be physical to create space for the more talented players, lay down the law with his fists when the need arised, and chip in with some production.

Remember, Gillies scored 697 points in the NHL. For all the time Dave Semenko played alongside Wayne Gretzky he only scored 153 points. Sure, Semenko and Gillies weren’t the exact same type of player, but being the tough guy to “protect” the skilled guys was still part of the job.

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Clark Gillies doesn’t have the stats like some of the other players in the hall, but his impact on the game where unparalleled. His play, along with his teammates, allowed the New York Islanders to go onto incredible success. He was the very best at what he did, and that demands recognition in the one place where the very best are celebrated; the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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