Reaction to Gilbert’s Death
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Rod Gilbert,” said Rangers owner and Madison Square Garden executive chairman, James Dolan. Dolan went on to call Gilbert “one of the greatest Rangers” and “one of the greatest ambassadors the game of hockey has ever had”. In his statement, the team president and general manager, Chris Drury, showed how iconic Gilbert was to the franchise. He said “Growing up a young Rangers fan, one of the first names I ever heard about was Rod Gilbert – he was synonymous to Rangers hockey.” League commissioner, Gary Bettman, noted that “Rod Gilbert’s impact on the National Hockey League and the New York Rangers…was profound – both on and off the ice”. He ended it off by saying “The game has lost a true friend”.
Rod Gilbert’s time with the Rangers
Gilbert’s career began in the 1960-61 season when he was 19. He played just one game but tallied his first career point with an assist. The next season, he also played one game. The season after he then played a full season, tallying 31 points in 70 games. Finally, Gilbert’s career began to take off in the 1963-64 season. He put up 24 goals and 40 assists, which totals 64 points in 70 games. In the 1967-68 season, Gilbert made his first all-star team. He had 29 goals and 48 assists that season, adding up to 77 points in 73 games. He went on to match the 77 points the year after, this time in just 66 games.
When Gilbert reached his 30s, he put up the best seasons he had. In his age 30 season (1971-72), he had 97 points, 43 goals, and 54 assists in 73 games. He also had 15 points in 16 playoff games that year. His 97 point mark was eclipsed again 3 seasons later, as he had 36 goals and 61 assists. Gilbert’s career ended 3 years after that season.
In Gilbert’s 18 years with the Rangers, he had 406 goals, 615 assists, totaling 1,021 points in 1,065 games played. The 406 goals and 1,021 points are both Rangers franchise records. He also has the second-most points ever in NHL history for a right-winger. He had 2 all-star appearances and won the Bill Masterson trophy in the 1975-76 season. The award is given to the player that shows the best qualities of perseverance and sportsmanship. This represents the kind of person Gilbert was.
Gilbert’s Post Career Accolades
The only “flaw” to Gilbert’s career was that he never won a Stanley Cup. However, he still achieved two of the highest honors an athlete can have. On October 14th, 1979, Gilbert had his number 7 retired by the Rangers. Fittingly, he was the first Ranger to have his number retired. Then in 1982, Gilbert was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He stayed connected to hockey after that. His post-playing career showed how great of a person he was. In 1991, he won the Lester Patrick Trophy for his efforts in hockey in the United States. In 2007, he was selected as the “Man of the Year” by the NHL Alumni Association. Lastly, in 2010, he won the Ellis Island Medal of Honor due to his efforts as a humanitarian.