Originally created 11/05/02

Gillies joins linemates in Hockey Hall of Fame



TORONTO -- Clark Gillies was reunited with New York Islander linemates Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"To be recognized as one of the great lines that was ever put together is very special," Gillies said.

The three helped the Islanders win four consecutive championships from 1980-83. Bossy was inducted in the hall in 1991 and Trottier in 1997.

Gillies was enshrined Monday with Bernie Federko, the St. Louis Blues playmaker, and Rod Langway, the American who won a Stanley Cup with Montreal and twice won the Norris Trophy as best defenseman with Washington.

Roger Neilson, head coach of eight NHL teams and now an assistant in Ottawa, was inducted in the builders category.

Gillies, a tough, 6-foot-3 forward, finished with 319 goals, 378 assists and 1,023 penalty minutes in 948 NHL games.

"I told somebody the other day, 'I'd have scored 50 goals if Trots was right-handed."' the 48-year-old Gillies said after being presented with his navy blue hall blazer and ring. "But, nah, I knew my job on that line was pretty clear. The puck would come around the boards to me, I would throw it to Trots in the middle, and he'd throw it to Boss, and Boss would go in and score. That's not far from the truth."

He considers the 1980-83 Islanders "the greatest team that was ever assembled." Coach Al Arbour stressed the need for Gillies to stick to basics.

"He'd always tell me, 'I don't want you cutting through the middle or making fancy backhand passes. Your game is straight up and down the boards. Bang in the corners and get the puck out and get it to (Trottier and Bossy),"' Gillies recalled. "It worked very, very well."

Other Islanders in the hall are defenseman Denis Potvin (1991) and goalie Billy Smith (1993). Arbour (1996) and president Bill Torrey (1995) are in the builders section.

Gillies had been nominated twice before and fell short both times by one selection committee vote.

"I just kind of put it on the back burner and it's been six or seven years now for this day to come up," he said. "It's a wonderful, wonderful thing. It's the ultimate reward for playing a game that was just a lot of fun."

The 68-year-old Neilson was the first NHL coach to use video as a teaching tool and also devised defensive systems still used today.

Neilson was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, bone marrow cancer, in December 1999. He underwent successful stem cell transplant in 2000. In January 2001, he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, skin cancer.

"Right now the doctors are pretty happy," Neilson said. "They feel both (cancers) are under control. ... I feel like I may live forever."

Langway, like Gillies, had to wait for the Hall of Fame.

"I was disappointed not to have got the call last year - I have to be honest with you," he said. "I thought that, if I didn't get in this year, I might get overlooked."

Federko was the first to earn as many as 50 assists in 10 consecutive seasons.

"I was looked to as a guy who could carry the torch and I was proud to carry it for 13 years," said Federko, a TV commentator for the Blues. "As a player, you dream about winning a Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, we didn't get that but it wasn't for lack of trying. I just tried to be the nucleus of that hockey club for as long as I could."