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Islanders legend Clark Gillies passes away at 67

RIP the one and only Jethro.

Clark Gillies On The Ice Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

Moments after their 4-0 win over the Coyotes at UBS Arena tonight, the Islanders announced the devastating news that Clark Gillies, four-time Stanley Cup champion, former Islanders captain and all around Long Island legend, has passed away at 67.

The team’s statement opens with a paragraph that only starts to scratch the surface of the player and the man “Jethro” was, and what he meant to the franchise.

“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.”

The accolades are easy to rattle off. First round pick, four Stanley Cups, 19 straight playoff series victories, 304 goals, 663 points, captain for two seasons, number retirement, Hockey Hall of Fame.

But there was so much more. A “power forward” before the concept even existed, an Islander since the team’s third year of existence, a former prospect of the Houston Astros, one of the most feared NHL fighters of the 1970’s, founder of the Clark Gillies Foundation for helping children, one of the funniest hockey storytellers of any time, and a man who came to Long Island from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and made it his home for the rest of his life.

A constant presence at Islanders games, team events, golf outings, charity functions, fan locations and just generally all over The Island, it was damn near impossible to not run into Clark Gillies somewhere. The guy clearly loved being an Islander, long after his playing career ended. He was as generous, funny and caring in person as he was intimidating on the ice. This from last Spring will never not be legendary.

Everyone has a Clark Gillies story. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at a live Isles Seat podcast event about six years ago, and got to hear him hold court while telling hilarious stories sitting alongside Brian Compton and Justin Bourne, his son-in-law and son of fellow legend Bob Bourne. I couldn’t possibly forget this entire incredible evening.

Here’s the fight he talks about.

The tributes will no doubt continue for a long time. Gillies was a key part of an Islanders team that meant a lot to many, many people. From fans to writers to other NHLers.

Clark Gillies was a one of a kind. He set the standard for a type of player every team wants and is still constantly looking for. Tough, talented and simply unafraid of anything. But he also set the standard for what a franchise player should be. Drafted and developed in house, a key part of championship glory, a bridge to new generations and a man who truly loved the team and its home. You can’t ask for anything more from anyone.

RIP Jethro. Sincerest condolences to his family from all of us.