New York Rangers to honor Rod Gilbert with new award and 7 patch

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

New York Rangers icon Rod Gilbert passed away at age 80 in August. Today the organization announced they will honor Mr. Ranger on opening night by wearing their white jerseys for warmup, all with the #7 and Gilbert on the back.

Afterwards, the players will sigh their jersey and it will be auctioned off to support the Garden of Dreams Foundation. Rod and his family gave so much of their time and efforts to help charitable organizations and were big supporters of the Garden of Dreams.

“For the Rangers home opener this season, both the date and opponent have a significant connection to Gilbert’s career,” the team said in a statement. “October 14, 2021 marks the 42-year anniversary of when Gilbert became the first Rangers player ever to have his jersey number retired (October 14, 1979). And on March 9, 1977, Gilbert was honored by the Rangers as an active player with “Rod Gilbert Night” – and the Blueshirts’ opponent was the Minnesota North Stars. Gilbert scored a goal and tallied an assist in that game, which was a 6-4 Rangers win.”

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Team announces The Rod Gilbert “Mr. Ranger” Award and will wear #7 patch all season

Gilbert’s 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.

This season the team also announced they will honor his memory with a #7 patch.

In addition, the organization has created a special new award to be given out at the end of the season. The Rod Gilbert “Mr. Ranger” Award, will be presented annually, starting this season and it will recognize the Rangers player “who best honors Rod’s legacy by exemplifying leadership qualities both on and off the ice, and making a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.”

A fitting and everlasting honor to one of Broadway’s brightest stars.

Remembering Rod Gilbert

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.

rod gilbert passes away
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

“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.”

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 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.

Rest in Peace! Forever a Ranger.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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