PHILADELPHIA - Trevor Gillies was looking forward to a low-key celebration for his 31st birthday Friday - dinner with his Bridgeport teammates, some time with his wife and kids - but he happily scrapped his plans once the Islanders summoned him. The 6-3, 220-pound enforcer was signed to a two-way contract Thursday and given his first chance to play in the NHL since Nov. 6, 2006.
"This is a much nicer birthday present," Gillies joked.
There's no question what Gillies is expected to add to the lineup, nor is there any doubt about what type of game the team expects to encounter Saturday at Wachovia Center.
The last time the Islanders visited Broad Street on Dec. 8, they lost, 6-2, and left with a noticeable limp. John Tavares sported a chipped tooth, compliments of a nasty hit from Chris Pronger, and Sean Bergenheim (rib) and Tim Jackman (hip) suffered injuries that sidelined them for weeks. "That's the style they play," Tavares said. "They are not afraid to throw their bodies around. They bully you and push you around. That's how they got that nickname [Broad Street Bullies]."
With the newest addition to the team's lineup, however, Gillies (no relation to former Islanders great Clark) hopes the opponents will think twice.
"My whole job is to be a deterrent so they don't take liberties with our skill players," Gillies said. "Hopefully, the game stays clean and nothing has to be done, but if it doesn't, I'm more than happy to stand up for my teammates against anyone."
Gillies ranks 13th in the AHL with 123 penalty minutes in 18 games with the Sound Tigers.
Scott Gordon, who briefly coached Gillies in Providence, said, "He brings a lot of energy, is vocal on the bench and isn't afraid to stick up for his teammates."