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Isles Road Stories: Clark Gillies

Clark Gillies shakes down his teammates over a pair of shoes

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

Not even Clark Gillies is immune to getting pranked on the road. But as the 1980 New York Islanders found out, be very careful when provoking one of the team's tough guys, you might just have to pay for it. Gillies tells the story. 


"We were playing in Buffalo during the 1980 Stanley Cup playoffs and had a day between games. I can't sleep, so I go to the mall and I find a shoe store. I see these nice canvas shoes, beige color - perfect for spring. I buy these and I walked to practice, but they are a little tight, I'm trying to look like I had small feet, which wasn't working. 

So I walk back to the mall after practice and get the proper size, so now this is two trips to the shoe store. So the next morning I go to practice and I have these beautiful tan canvas shoes. This is the pregame skate, so I'm a little on edge because we have a game that night. I'm one of the last guys off the ice after the pre-game skate and I go to put my shoes on and all 20 guys have signed my shoes. 

Now you wouldn't think that would be such a horrible event if right now if I really thought 20 years forward that I'd have a pair of shoes signed by the 1980 Stanley Cup champions, but I flipped out. 

I said - well, I can't tell you exactly what I said - but I said I will beat the [crap] out of every one of you unless you give me a dollar apiece. Those shoes cost 20 dollars and every one of you needs to give me a dollar right now or I am going to start beating the crap out of each and every one of you... one at a time. In about five minutes I had 20 dollars in my hand and a pair of signed shoes to the 1980 Stanley Cup champions. 

I gave the first pair of shoes to Denis Potvin and I went back to the store and the guy there was happier than anybody because I wound up buying three pairs of the same shoes off the guy. He probably hadn't sold a pair of those shoes in three months, but I bought all three pairs. 

The priceless part of the story was the look on everyone's face when I said I want a dollar from each and every one of you, or I will beat the crap out of each and every one of you. 

They all looked at me, like umm, here's your dollar. I had the beard going and must have had a real scowl on my face.

I actually had the shoes until not long ago, but unfortunately all the signatures faded off. Can you imagine what those shoes would be worth right now?"





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