New York Rangers legend Rod Gilbert passes away at age 80

Legendary Ranger, Rod Gilbert passes away

By Forever Blueshirts
rod gilbert
Feb 25, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Former Rangers star Rod Gilbert speaks during a banner raising ceremony for former Ranger star Jean Ratelle before a game between the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Legendary New York Rangers player and icon Rod Gilbert has passed away at the age of 80. His trademark number 7 was retired on October 14, 1979 and will forever stand as a testament to one of the greatest Blueshirts in franchise history.

New York Rangers legend Rod Gilbert passes at 80

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Rod Gilbert – one of the greatest Rangers to ever play for our organization and one of the greatest ambassadors the game of hockey has ever had,” said James Dolan, Executive Chairman, Madison Square Garden Sports Corp in a team statement. “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, ‘Mr. Ranger.’ Our thoughts are with Rod’s wife, Judy, and the entire Gilbert family during this difficult time. They will always be a part of the Rangers family.” 

“Everyone in the Rangers organization mourns the loss of a true New York icon,” Rangers President and General Manager Chris Drury said. “Rod’s remarkable talent and zest for life personified this city and endeared him to hockey fans and non-hockey fans alike. Growing up a young Rangers fan, one of the first names I ever heard about was Rod Gilbert – he was synonymous with Rangers hockey. It was an incredible privilege to get to know Rod. His passion and dedication to the Rangers will forever be a source of inspiration for me.”

Rod Gilbert was the epitome of a Ranger from the moment he put on the sweater. For 18 seasons from 1960-61 to 1977-78, he was Broadway’s brightest star and the face of the franchise. The kid from Montreal, became a New Yorker and loved every second of it.

Gilbert was more than a Hall of Fame player

In 1982, the Hockey Hall of Fame made Gilbert a member. At the time his playing career ended, he was second to only Gordie Howe in points for a right wing. Gilbert set or matched 20 team scoring records, including first all-time for goals (406) and points (1021).

Gilbert was a member of one hockey’s most famous lines, the GAG line with Vic Hadfield and Jean Ratelle. He was also an 8 time all-star. The man was an inspiration to many, as he battled debilitating injuries during his career that started with a back injury in junior hockey. In 1976 he was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for his dedication to hockey.

rod gilbert passes away
Feb 25, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Former Rangers with retired numbers (left to right) Mike Richter (35) and Mark Messier (11) and Ed Giacomin (1) and Vic Hadfield (11) and Jean Ratelle (19) and Rod Gilbert (7) and Brian Leetch (2) and Adam Graves (9) pose for a photo during a banner raising ceremony for former Ranger star Jean Ratelle before a game between the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Rod was more than just a hockey player, he was a member of the community and a fan. You could often see Gilbert at Rangers games cheering his team on. He was one of the organization’s greatest ambassadors.

His charity work for the community should also be remembered. Whether it was golf outings or his work with the Garden of Dreams, Rod was dedicated to help and make people smile. For over 32 years, he served in many different capacities for the Rangers. He led the development of the team’s Alumni Association, and along with his wife Judy served on the board of Ronald McDonald House.

Gilbert is survived by his wife, Judy, his siblings, Jean Marie, André, and Pauline (sister-in-law), his children, Chantal, Justin, Holly, and Brooke, and his grandchildren, Arielle, Owen, Kaya, Jordyn, Lila, Logan, and Damon.

Rest in Peace! Forever a Ranger.