At the age of 67, New York Islanders legend, Clark Gillies has passed away. The news of his passing broke directly after the Islanders 4-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes, which quickly became an afterthought when hearing about the passing of Clark.
In 958 career games, he scored 319 goals, with 697 points. He was a four-time Stanley Cup champion, a hockey hall of famer, and his number nine has hung in the rafters since 1996.
Even for someone like me, who didn't have the pleasure of watching Gillies play, this one hit home. He was a legend on and off the ice and the epitome of being a New York Islander. Islanders coach, Barry Trotz had this to say after finding out about the passing of Clark Gillies.
Clark remained very close with the team after retiring. He was a former Islander who always had a presence and was always around. Whenever I did see him weather at the Coliseum, or on television I never saw him without that smile on his face. He very clearly loved the game of hockey and he loved this team.
Butch Goring, who was teammates with Clark Gillies, spoke about his legacy. It was hard to keep a dry eye watching Butchie talk about losing not only his teammate but a close friend.
One of my favorite moments was Clark Gillies at the Islanders playoff run last year smashing a beer on his head.
He was fun, and almost a larger-than-life presence to this fan base and that's only the beginning. Off the ice he was a great man, and his Clark Gillies Foundation is the personification of that. The Gillies Foundation helps children who are physically, mentally, or financially challenged. That's the kind of person that Clark was, he was caring and wanted to help those in need.
It still hasn't sunk in for me, and I bet a lot of people feel the same way. When you visit UBS Arena next time, take an extra look up to number nine in the rafters and think of your favorite memory of him. I know that's what I'll do.
RIP Clark Gillies, gone too soon.