The New York Rangers lost a piece of their heart and soul on a Sunday night with the announcement that Rod Gilbert has passed away.
The New York Rangers announced that Rod Gilbert passed away at the age of 80 on Sunday evening.
Rangers CEO, James Dolan said in a statement,
â€œI am deeply saddened by the passing of Rod Gilbert â€“ one of the greatest Rangers to ever play for our organization and one of the greatest ambassadors the game of hockey has ever had. While his on-ice achievements rightly made him a Hall of Famer, it was his love for the Rangers and the people of New York that endeared him to generations of fans and forever earned him the title, â€˜Mr. Ranger.â€™ Our thoughts are with Rodâ€™s wife, Judy, and the entire Gilbert family during this difficult time. They will always be a part of the Rangers family.â€
Gilbert played over 18 seasons in the NHL, all of them in a Rangers sweater.
During his career, Gilbert established or matched 20 team scoring records, and at the time of his retirement in 1977, was second only to Gordie Howe in points by a right winger in NHL history. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982.
The Montreal, Quebec native finished his NHL career with 406 goals and 615 assists for 1,021 points in 1,065 games, along with 34 goals and 33 assists in 79 playoff matches. Gilbert ranks first on the Rangersâ€™ all-time goals and points lists, while he is the only Blueshirt to tally at least 400 career goals or at least 1,000 career points. Playing with Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield on the â€˜GAG Lineâ€™ (goal-a-game), Gilbert established career-highs with 43 goals and 97 points and earned First Team All-Star honors in 1971-72. Over the course of his career, he appeared in eight NHL All-Star Games and was voted a Second Team All-Star in 1967-68.
In 1976 Gilbert received the Bill Masterton Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL player who â€œbest exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.â€ The award was a fitting tribute to the courage and spirit of Gilbert, recognizing the hard work and determination that helped him overcome major back surgery early in his career, including two follow-up spinal fusion operations, to establish himself as one of hockeyâ€™s all-time greats.
His time with the Rangers after his playing career spannedÂ 32 years. Â He most recently served as Director, Special Projects and Community Relations.
His No. 7 jersey became the first number ever to be retired by the Rangers, when it was raised to The Garden rafters on October 14, 1979. In September 2007, the National Hockey League Alumni Association honored Gilbert with the 2007 Man of the Year Award.
He will be Missed when No. 30 is raised
The New York Rangers have already announced that Henrik Lindqvusts Jersey will be raised to the rafters sometime this season. Gilbert would have been there orchestrating the night on the ice with his fellow Jersey retirees in attendance.
His absence will be noticeable but his spirit will be overlooking the garden doing what he has always done, being proud of wearing the red, white, and blue on Broadway.
Commissioner Batemannâ€™s Statement
Sunday night, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman releases a statement on the passing of Gilbert;
â€œRod Gilbertâ€™s impact on the National Hockey League and the New York Rangers over the past 62 years was profound â€“ both on and off the ice,â€ said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. â€œAs a player, he was revered by his teammates, respected by his opponents and absolutely beloved by Rangersâ€™ fans.Â Throughout his 18 NHL seasons â€“ all with the Rangers, he was among the greatest offensive players of his era and truly entertained fans across the League on a nightly basis.Â His contributions to the game were appropriately recognized with hockeyâ€™s highest individual honor â€“ induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982. Rodâ€™s impact on our game was equaled, if not surpassed, in his retirement. For 32 years, he was one of the greatest ambassadors that our League has seen in its 104-year history.Â The time that he devoted to countless charitable causes and the passion that he brought to every interaction with hockey fans at not only Madison Square Garden but across the NHL was both incredible and inspiring.
â€œOn a personal level, I will miss Rodâ€™s friendship and love for the game. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Judy and his children Chantal, Justin, Holly and Brooke and his seven grandchildren. The game has lost a true friend.â€ – NHL.Com
Gilbert is survived by his wife, Judy, his siblings, Jean Marie, AndrÃ©, and Pauline (sister-in-law), his children, Chantal, Justin, Holly, and Brooke, and his grandchildren, Arielle, Owen, Kaya, Jordyn, Lila, Logan, and Damon.