Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky and former players honored Clark Gillies, the late Hall of Famer who passed away earlier this year, on Friday at the Nassau County Legislative building in Mineola.  Credit: Reese T. Williams / Newsday/Newsday

It’s a fitting tribute to a close friend, Butch Goring said as he stood on the steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola on Friday morning. Only a few hours later, once darkness fell, the dome of the building would be lit in blue and orange in honor of Islanders great Clark Gillies.

"I can’t think of a more appropriate way to honor Clark Gillies’ legacy," Goring said. "He was always in the lights as far as I was concerned. It didn’t matter whether he was playing or out doing his charitable work. He was front and center."

Gillies, the Hall of Fame power forward who won four Stanley Cups with the Islanders in the 1980s, died Jan. 21 at age 67. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, flanked by Goring, Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky and another Islanders great, Bobby Nystrom, announced the lighting of the dome at a news conference.

"People are sometimes judged by how much money you have," Goring said. "In Clark’s case, you’re judged by how many friends you have. In that case, Clark Gillies was a multibillionaire."

Blakeman said the county wanted to honor not only Gillies’ hockey acumen but his many charitable endeavors. The Clark Gillies Foundation works to help children who are physically, developmentally and/or financially challenged. He raised a million dollars to help construct a pediatric unit at Huntington Hospital that bears his name.

"Clark was a crier," Ledecky said. "He cared so much about people. He would take us through the hospital wards where he was working with children. He would take us to meet the underprivileged. He really exposed the new ownership group of Scott Malkin, Dewey Shay and myself to the history of Long Island, the history of the Islanders and the great tradition that stands on the sweater that we wear today with his number on it."

Nystrom was a former roommate of Gillies and his best friend.

"Yes, he was one hell of a hockey player, but that was only a short time in his life," Nystrom said. "What he did after hockey will be his legacy. He dedicated his life to the people of Long Island. If you can find someone on Long Island who doesn’t know the name Clark Gillies, then they must have moved here yesterday.

"He never said no to anyone who had a charitable event . . . Not only has he raised millions of dollars for the Clark Gillies Foundation, but he also did it for hundreds of other charities on Long Island. I often wondered if he ever slept."

Gillies was woven into the fabric of the franchise. He made everyone who had ever played on Long Island feel like family, Ledecky said.

He recalled a story of Gillies’ interaction with Petr Mika, who played only three games with the Islanders in the 1999-2000 season but still attended an alumni event.

"[Mika], from the Czech Republic, flew over for our alumni weekend and Clark embraced him and treated him like he had played 1,000 games for the New York Islanders," Ledecky said.

"At the end of Clark’s interaction with this man who had traveled 8,000 miles to come be part of alumni weekend, [Mika] came over to me and started to cry. The great Clark Gillies, the Hall of Famer, the winner of four Stanley Cups, had made him feel like he had been an Islander for life.

"That was Clark in a nutshell."

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