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Lunch With Gillies

by Jesse D. Eisenberg / New York Islanders

The NHL has inadvertently robbed me of one of the most enjoyable parts of my job.

When the league handed Trevor Gillies a nine-game suspension for a skirmish on February 11th against Pittsburgh, it not only took the tough forward out of the Islanders lineup for three weeks, but it also ensured that I would have to eat my next few pregame meals without the most entertaining person I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining with.

Throughout the season, every time Gillies was a healthy scratch on the road, he would stay on the ice after the morning skate for an extended workout (ie. bag skate), before joining the PR and training staff for the tail-end of the pregame meal.

Most Islanders fans already have an idea of how jovial and entertaining the gritty winger is; anytime he’s asked for an autograph, it turns into a half hour conversation. Gillies can find a way to relate to anyone, and during these pregame meals, he’s even more motivated than usual to shoot the crap because he doesn’t want to head back to his room and wake up his roommate (usually Moulson).

What’s usually a 20 minute meal for the staffers turns into a 2.5 hour feast. Gillies can talk cars, kids, pets, hockey and more, but what we really get him going on is his passion: hockey fights. The guru studies every NHL fight from every game during the season, and can take you through the blow-by-blow of each one as if he’d actually been involved.

When the coffee runs out and the hotel staff begins setting up the pregame snack (Remember, NHL = Never Hungry League), we usually take the cue and retire to the lobby until it's time to head over to the rink.

When faced with the hypothetical question, “If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, dead or alive, real or imaginary, who would you choose?” I’d be hard pressed not to save a seat for Gillies. Who else could keep Gretzky, Gandhi, Superman and Santa entertained?

Jesus, who’d also get an invite, knows I couldn’t do it alone.
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