Every team in every sport has one all-time player that symbolizes the team. That one player that comes to mind whenever you think about the team. For the New York Rangers, that player was Rod Gilbert or as he is affectionately known as Mr. Ranger.
While he started with the Rangers in the 1960-1961 season, he became a full-time player during the 1962-1963 season. He played eighteen seasons with the Rangers and retired following the 1977-1978 season. In 1979, his #7 jersey was the first to ever be retired by the team. Gilbert spent his entire 18 year career with the Rangers, amassing 406 goals, 615 assists for 1,021 points in 1,065 games. In the postseason, he tallied 34 goals and 33 assists for 67 points in 79 games. He still holds team records for goals scored and points, game winning goals, as well as the longest consecutive assist streak by a forward. He was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 1982.
Gilbert returned to the team in 1989 as the director of special projects and community relations representative, as well as the president of the team’s alumni association. He was also involved in the Garden of Dreams Foundation, an outreach program that works with children in the community.
He was the unofficial ambassador to the Rangers organization. Always there to greet new players as well as fans at special events sponsored by the team. There seemingly is not a fan young or old that does not know Mr. Ranger, a player who had not skated on the Garden ice in over 40 years. To Rangers fans he was as much a part of our hockey family as anyone in the organization.
He passed away at the age of 80 on August 19th. His loss was felt all over New York City not just Madison Square Garden. He will be greatly missed by both the team and their fans but his presence will be felt all through the Garden. Such an iconic player can never be replaced but will always be remembered and never forgotten.Embed from Getty Images