1974: Clark Gillies
Drafted by: New York Islanders
958 NHL Games Played
4 Stanley Cups
1 All Star Game
The New York Islanders haven’t always been the good-but-we-don’t-know-why team they are are today. Back in the early 80s, we knew why they were good! Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Dennis Potvin, Butch Goring… I could go on.
Building that dynasty took the team some time. Gillies and Trottier were both plucked from the 1974 draft, Bossy a few years later. Gillies took to the team like a duck to water, and quickly established himself as an all-rounder capable of producing points while being physically dominant.
Gillies’ early success brought him the Islanders’ Captaincy, however he surrendered this after a while and Potvin took the leadership role. That freedom unleashed Gillies and 1980 brought the team their first Stanley cup, followed by cups two, three and four. The drive for five however fell just short of the final hurdle as the Islanders lost in the finals to Edmonton. The team’s dip in performance mirrored Gillies’ numbers, and in 1986 was left unprotected in the waiver draft (kids, ask your parents).
Buffalo claimed Gillies but the magic was never there in upstate New York, and injury forced retirement not long after. The Islanders sent his jersey to the rafters, and in 2002 he was inducted into the hall of fame.