The retired #9 jersey banner of former Islanders captain Clark...

The retired #9 jersey banner of former Islanders captain Clark Gillies is illuminated during a moment of silence in his honor prior to the game against the Maple Leafs at UBS Arena on Saturday. Credit: Getty Images/Christopher Pasatieri

Flowers were placed in front of Clark Gillies’ plaque on the Islanders’ Wall of Fame and there was a touching tribute to the late Hall of Famer before Saturday night’s 3-1 loss to the Maple Leafs at UBS Arena.

It started with a photo montage accompanied by fans’ messages via Twitter. An emotional video ended with "9 In Our Hearts Forever." The crowd responded with a "Gil-lies, Gil-lies" chant before a moment of silence.

It all got to some of the players on the bench.

"I know it did, there’s no question," coach Barry Trotz said. "He meant a lot to a lot of those guys. I could feel the emotion behind the bench as well."

The Islanders announced that they will wear a "No. 9" patch on their jerseys the rest of the season. Gillies passed away on Friday at the age of 67.

Zach Parise’s late father, J.P. Parise, was Gillies’ teammate.

"I remember my dad talking about those teams a lot," Zach Parise said. "Bringing up Clark’s name a lot."

Bellows for Wahlstrom

Trotz inserted Kieffer Bellows, a healthy scratch Friday, for Oliver Wahlstrom, who was benched in Friday’s third period. The previous two games Wahlstrom missed this season were related to COVID-19.

"For consistency," Trotz said. "Wahlly is a big piece of what we do and a big piece of our future. But the consistency has been all over the map for me. And that’s where I’m trying to reel it in a little bit with him."

Trotz also shuffled his lines in the third, swapping Jean-Gabriel Pageau onto Mathew Barzal’s right wing for Austin Czarnik.

Return trip

The Leafs became the first opponent to play twice at UBS Arena after a 3-0 win on Nov. 21.


More Islanders