Clark Gillies’ iconic number nine is one of the six jerseys in the Coliseum rafters that was worn by an Islanders Stanley Cup Legend before being retired in his honor on Dec. 7, 1996. Since the Islanders inception in 1972, sweater number nine has been worn by Brian Spencer, Gillies, David Chyzowski and Kirk Muller.
“Having my number retired by the Islanders was very special not only then, but ever since. Every time I go to a game and look up there it reminds me of how special my time with the Islanders was and the great times we had as a team,” Gillies said.
Gillies chose to wear sweater number nine after the Islanders selected him in the first round, fourth overall, of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft.
“My reason for wanting to wear number nine was because growing up my favorite team was the Chicago Blackhawks and my favorite player was Bobby Hull,” said the Islanders legend.
Just six years after debuting the number, Gillies helped propel the Islanders to four straight Stanley Cup victories alongside teammates Bob Nystrom, Mike Bossy, Billy Smith, Bryan Trottier and Denis Potvin, whose numbers all hang next to Gillies’ nine.
The Islanders aren’t the only team who will never see another player wear the number nine because of Gillies. Before turning professional, Gillies played three seasons with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.
“The first time I was able to get the number nine was when I played junior for Regina and they have since retired it there as well,” said Gillies.
Being able to keep his junior number with the Islanders was pure luck.
“When I came to the Islanders number nine was available because the Islanders had gotten rid of Brian Spencer and he happened to wear number nine so I grabbed it,” Gillies explained. “I was very fortunate to get it.”
The Islanders first number nine, Brian Spencer, joined the team via the 1972 Expansion Draft. In his two seasons with the Islanders, Spencer played in 132 games, scoring 19 goals and 40 assists for 59 points and 155 penalty minutes.
After Gillies made his mark on the number, David Chyzowski was selected by the Islanders second overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. In five seasons with the Islanders, Chyzowski played in 118 games, scoring 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points and 138 penalty minutes, all while wearing number nine.
Kirk Muller was the last Islanders player to wear the number. In the middle of his 22-year career, Muller played the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons with the Islanders, playing in 27 games and scoring seven goals and eight assists for 15 points and 29 penalty minutes.Gillies by the numbers
12 years with the New York Islanders
2 years with the Buffalo Sabres
958 NHL regular season games played (872 with Islanders)
319 goals (304 with Islanders)
378 assists (359 with Islanders)
697 points (663 with Islanders)
1023 penalty minutes (891 with Islanders)
164 NHL playoff games (159 with Islanders)
47 playoff goals (all with Islanders)
47 playoff assists (46 with Islanders)
94 playoff points (93 with Islanders)
287 playoff penalty minutes (262 with Islanders)
91 career-high point total in 1978-79 season (35 goals, 56 assists)
19 career-high playoff point total in 1983-84 season (12 goals, 7 assists)Jesse D. Eisenberg also contributed to this story.