Game Peter MacDougall’s presence at Clark Gillies tribute “was just meant to be”

Game Peter MacDougall’s presence at Clark Gillies tribute “was just meant to be”


The New York Islanders paid tribute to the late Clark Gillies before Saturday night’s NHL home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

game Fans stand for a moment of silence to honour New York Islanders and Regina Pats legend before Friday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Elmont, N.Y. Gillies died Friday at age 67.
Fans stand for a moment of silence to honour New York Islanders and Regina Pats legend before Friday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Elmont, N.Y. Gillies died Friday at age 67. Photo by Christopher Pasatieri /Getty Images

Purely by chance, there was a link to Clark Gillies ‘ tenure with the Regina Pats when the legendary left winger was remembered prior to Saturday’s NHL game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the host New York Islanders.

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One of the referees was Peter MacDougall — whose father, Kim, was a teammate of Gillies on the 1974 Memorial Cup champions.

“There are 120 referees (in the NHL) and he gets picked,” Kim MacDougall said on Saturday afternoon. “It’s a total fluke. That’s the way it should have been and it worked out perfectly.

“It was just meant to be.”

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Gillies, a member of the Pats from 1971 to 1974 who went on to spend 12 of his 14 NHL seasons with the Islanders, died Friday at age 67. He had been battling cancer.

“Big man. Big loss,” Kim MacDougall said. “You wouldn’t find a better guy. First-class. Number 1.”

Number 9, worn by Gillies with the Pats and the Islanders, has long been retired by both teams in his honour.

Gillies, a 2002 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, helped the Islanders win Stanley Cup titles in 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983. He was also the team’s captain for two seasons.

The Islanders held a pre-game ceremony Saturday at UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y., to honour Gillies’ life and career.

Following a video presentation that included highlights of Gillies in an Islanders uniform, the fans began chanting his surname. A moment of silence was then held.

As well, the Islanders announced that their players will wear a No. 9 patch on their jerseys for the remainder of the season.

Throughout the weekend, messages of condolence and appreciation have poured in from throughout the hockey world.

“Clarkie always had kind of a little smile,” former Islanders goalie Glenn (Chico) Resch — who, like Gillies, was born in Moose Jaw — said Saturday.

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“He was very approachable. He was lovable and loving at the same time.”

Pats alumnus Dennis Sobchuk expressed similarly fond recollections of his former linemate and long-time friend.

“There’s a flood of memories,” Sobchuk said from his home in Bellingham, Wash. “Clarkie was larger than life. It was infectious. When we would all be in a room, Clarkie would kind of take over.

“You can’t say enough about Clarkie as a hockey player, as a leader and as a friend.”

Gillies — an enshrinee in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame — was identified by the Pats while they were scouting goaltender Ed Staniowski.

Staniowski was playing in a tournament in Swift Current at the time. Former Pats head coach Bob Turner took in the tournament and was quickly impressed by another future star.

“I saw this big guy on the left wing for Moose Jaw and I thought, ‘Hmmm …,’ ” Turner said in a 2002 interview with the Regina Leader-Post. “That’s how we found him. I phoned back to Regina and said, ‘We’ve got to get him on our list — quickly.’ That’s when we put them both on our list.”

Gillies registered 117 goals, 166 assists and 570 penalty minutes in 201 regular-season games with the Pats.

During the Memorial Cup season, Gillies amassed 112 points (including 46 goals) in 65 games. He was named a 1973-74 Western Canada Hockey League all-star.

In the 1974 Memorial Cup final, played in Calgary, Gillies had a Gordie Howe hat trick — a goal, an assist and a fight — as the Pats overcame a 3-0 deficit and defeated the Quebec Remparts 7-4.

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Gillies is the second member of the 1973-74 Pats to pass away. Rick Uhrich, also a forward, was 60 when he died on Sept. 4, 2014.

The Islanders selected Gillies in the first round (fourth overall) of the 1974 NHL draft. He went on to spend his first 12 NHL seasons with the Islanders before playing for the Buffalo Sabres for two years.

In 958 NHL regular-season games, the two-time first-team all-star had 319 goals, 378 assists and 1,023 penalty minutes. He added 47 goals, 47 assists and 287 penalty minutes in 164 post-season games.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a prepared statement Friday night that Gillies’ statistics “reflected his talent. The adoration and admiration of his teammates reflected the heart and passion he brought to our game. We send our deepest condolences to his family and his countless friends and fans.”

Starring on a line with fellow Hall of Famers Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy, Gillies helped the Islanders win an unmatched 19 consecutive playoff series. Bossy, who is battling cancer, turned 65 on the same day that the Islanders remembered Gillies during the pre-game tribute.

In 1981, Gillies represented his home country in the Canada Cup. He scored Canada’s lone goal in the final, won 8-1 by Russia.

After twice finishing one vote shy of being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Gillies finally received the necessary support from the selection committee in 2002.

“Who would have thought that a big, curly-haired farm boy from Moose Jaw — a booming metropolis of 30,000 people — would end up in the Big Apple, winning four Stanley Cups, having his number retired, and being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame?” Gillies told the Leader-Post shortly before being formally enshrined on Nov. 4, 2002, alongside Rod Langway, Roger Neilson and Foam Lake’s Bernie Federko.

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“When you sit back and think about the list of the great, great hockey players that are in the Hall of Fame, and all of a sudden you’re one of those guys, it almost is indescribable,” Gillies added.

Gillies is the only full-time Pat to be inducted into the Hall as a player. Defenceman Al MacInnis, who played two games with the 1979-80 Pats, entered the Hall in 2007. Bill Hay, who spent two seasons with the Pats in the 1950s, was called to the Hall as a builder in 2015.

An accomplished all-around athlete, Gillies also excelled in football and baseball before focusing exclusively on hockey.

Gillies was the quarterback of his high school football team at Moose Jaw’s A.E. Peacock Collegiate.

While in high school, the third child of Don and Dorothy Gillies also excelled in baseball. He spent two summers in Covington, Va., pitching in the Houston Astros’ system.

After retiring from hockey, Gillies continued to reside on Long Island and embarked on another successful career — as a financial adviser — while also immersing himself in charitable causes.

Gillies is survived by his wife, Pam, and daughters Jocelyn, Brooke and Brianna.

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