Monday, December 7, 2009

1974-75 New York Islanders Clark Gillies Jersey

Clark Gillies was drafted 4th overall by the Islanders in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft after he helped the Regina Pats win the Memorial Cup. Gillies was also drafted by the Edmonton Oilers, who were still playing in the WHA at the time, but chose to sign with the Islanders, a "can't miss" decision that would seemingly have resulted in multiple Stanley Cups either way! We should all have such choices forced upon us.

1973-74 Regina Pats team, 1973-74 Regina Pats team
The Memorial Cup champion 1973-74 Regina Pats

He would make the Islanders in his first training camp and complete his 14-year career without ever playing a single game in the minors. In his first season he would score 25 goals and 22 assists for 47 points, but was more than just a goal scorer, bringing an element of toughness to his game that made him valuable beyond just offensive statistics.

Playing on a line with Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier, Gillies would score over 30 goals in six of the next seven seasons, aided by his durability, as he would skate in at least 70 games in each of his first ten seasons with the Islanders.

gillies-trottier-bossy, gillies-trottier-bossy
Gillies, Trottier and Bossy

During his fourth season with the Islanders, 1977-78, Gillies was named team captain, a position he would hold for two seasons.

1979-80 would see the Islanders frequent long playoff runs pay off and the Islanders would win the first of four consecutive Stanley Cups. Gillies would contribute 16 points in 21 games in 1980.

15 points in 18 playoff games in 1981 helped the Islanders win their second Stanley Cup and was followed by an almost identical 14 points in 19 games and a third consecutive championship.

Gilles Cup, Gilles Cup

The forth Stanley Cup of the Islanders dynasty came in 1983 and Gillies would compete in only 8 playoff games that season, registering but two assists.

The following season saw a drop in his production during the regular season, with just 12 goals in 76 games and less than 30 points on the season, his first time under 40 points in 10 seasons, but a strong rebound in the playoffs, leading all scorers with 19 points in 21 games.

The next two seasons with the Islanders saw unmistakable declines in games played, goals and points, finally dropping to 4 goals and 14 points in 55 games in 1985-86. As a result, he was left unprotected in the NHL Waiver Draft and was subsequently chosen by the Buffalo Sabres, where he would play the final two seasons of his career.

His final NHL totals were 958 games played, 319 goals, 378 assists and 697 points. He would also total 164 playoff games, the equivalent of two additional seasons, scoring 47 goals and 47 assists for 94 points and four Stanley Cups.

Gillies also played in the 1978 NHL All-Star Game and was on the NHL All-Star Team in the 1979 Challenge Cup and skated for Team Canada in the 1981 Canada Cup.

Gillies Challenge Cup, Gillies Challenge Cup
Gillies barrels through the Soviets during the 1979 Challenge Cup

His annual playoff duties with the Islanders precluded any participation in the annual World Championships held each spring during the NHL playoffs, as Gillies clubs made the playoffs in 13 of his 14 seasons, including every one of his 12 years on Long Island.

Gillies #9 jersey was retired by the Islanders on this date in 1996.

Nassau Coliseum, Nassau Coliseum
Gillies number hanging from the rafters on Long Island

Today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 New York Islanders Clark Gillies jersey from his rookie season in the NHL. This jersey sold at auction in 2008 for $3,723. Despite being the 4th overall pick and the Islanders first round draft pick, notice that his name on the back is misspelled!

This is the first style of Islanders jersey, notable for the lace-up collar, and was worn from 1972-73 to 1976-77, although the numbers on the back were orange for the first season and we must question the name even being on the back of an Islanders jersey with the lace up collar, something that we believe should not have appeared until the change to the v-neck collar unless perhaps this jersey was worn for a televised national TV game.

photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1978 NHL All-Star Game Clark Gillies jersey from his only All-Star appearance. He was named to the game in 1977, but did not play due to sickness.

This jersey style was first used by the All-Stars in 1973 and had a long run by today's standards, as it was used through 1981, nine games in all.

NHL All-Star 1977 jersey, NHL All-Star 1977 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Here Gillies demonstrates his noted toughness and punches noted Boston Bruins tough guy Stan Johnatan into the middle of next week.

Next Terry O'Reilly beats up Clark Gillies' fist with his face.

Finally, some post game interviews, including Clark Gillies, following the Islanders clinching the Stanley Cup in 1981. Now can someone explain why Gillies was wearing a #24 jersey?

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