Boomer Esiason honored his friend Clark Gillies with heartfelt words on WFAN Sports Radio on Monday. Esiason spoke on the “Boomer and Gio” show about him and Gregg Giannotti, saying he “absolutely loved” the New York Islanders greats.
Gillies died on January 21 at age 67.
“We lost a giant human being,” Esiason said. “A great hockey player, for sure. Hall of fame, no doubt. But an even better person.”
Gillies scored 319 goals and 378 assists in his 14 NHL seasons and the forward was integral to the Islanders’ dynasty and four consecutive Stanley Cup victories from 1980 to 1983. The “reluctant warrior,” as he was called Gillies, didn’t want to fight, but he always defended himself and his teammates on the ice.
According to Esiason, Gillies had cancer and his death caught those outside of his circle off guard.
“Pam, his wife, wanted everyone to know that he passed away quietly and peacefully with all of his family around him,” Esiason said.
Esiason and Gillies had been friends for 25 years, long after Esiason’s NFL career and Gillies’ NHL career ended. Esiason said he didn’t know Gillies as a hockey player, but he does know the impact number 9 has had on the sport.
“I think of some of the numbers [Gillies] set up, and maybe [the Islanders] are the great forgotten franchise of all time,” Esiason said. “When you think about what they did and the Stanley Cup run they had. The fact that they were in the Finals after this inning and I think they were in the Eastern Conference Finals before this inning even started. [Gillies] made the playoffs from 1975 to 1988 and won six division titles. They hit the 100-point mark in seven of those seasons, I mean, Clark Gillies scored 304 goals in 12 years with the Islanders. »
Esiason said Gillies’ memorial will be private and anyone wishing to honor him can donate to the Clark Gillies Foundation at ClarkGillies.org.