Former Regina Pats goaltender Ed Staniowski pays tribute to his friend and teammate Clark Gillies, who died Friday at the age of 67.
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What a privilege to be able to say that over the past 60 years, Clark Gillies has been a dear teammate, opponent and friend.
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I can only echo what the media, fans, friends, teammates and opponents have said and shared on sportscasts, Facebook, Twitter and online since the news of Clark’s passing broke Friday. .
Clark is remembered as a New York Islanders legend, a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, a larger-than-life member of the Long Island community and, most importantly, a a wonderful husband, father and grandfather – not to mention the kind of friend everyone should be granted in life.
From our early days of hockey, playing minor hockey against each other in Moose Jaw, playing together on midget and provincial championship teams, being teammates and living together in Regina with the Pats, and then as opposing players for 10 of Clark’s 14 seasons in the NHL, we shared memories that could fill the sports section of a newspaper.
On a personal level, we talked and visited often, laughed and cried, watched each other share our wedding vows and celebrated the birth of our children.
On the ice, I knew Clark was a true leader, a gifted athlete, and a gentle giant who could also be a fearless fighter.
Off the ice, he remains for me the friend of a lifetime.
Our parents were also the closest of friends and they traveled religiously together from Moose Jaw to Regina to watch us play at Old Exhibition Stadium.
During Clark’s three years with the Pats, the number of home games our parents missed could be counted on one hand.
His parents would see him win the Memorial Cup with the Pats and would see him drafted by the Islanders in 1974. However, his father sadly passed away before the Islanders won their four consecutive Stanley Cups.
Although his father didn’t witness those Stanley Cup victories, Clark knew his father was watching him lift the cup. Clark was also sure that his father had had his Pats and Islanders sweaters retired and his induction into the Hall of Fame.
For all of us who are lucky enough to know Clark and his family, we are doing better. He left a mark on the game, on the people of Long Island, on his childhood home, and on everyone he touched. To say he will be missed is an understatement.
From all of us, Clark, Godspeed and thank you for what you have brought into the lives of so many people.