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The story of how Mr. Ranger came to New York

Rod Gilbert and New York Rangers It is a perfect match.

Gilbert made his debut in Old Madison Square Garden (between 49th and 50th Streets on Eighth Avenue) for more than half a century, but many of the franchise records he created during his tenure are still valid.

But this hardly happened.

Gilbert’s origin

Gilbert was born on July 1, 1941 in Montreal, Quebec.When he was young, Rhodes admired Canadians Bernie “Prosperity” Jeffrey“He is very important to me,” Gilbert said of his idol. “I’m right-handed just like him, and I want to be like him.”

Rod Gilbert (THW Archive)

Although Gilbert grew up in Quebec, he still Guelph Biltmore, Who is sponsored by Blueshirts. After agreeing to play in Guelph, Rod persuaded the coach-Eddie Bush-to sign a kid who played center on his line. Jean Lataire.

“I told the coach’There is a man in Montreal who is better than me,'” Gilbert recalled. “I told him,’You better bring him here. We want to play together.'”

Youth career

Rod Gilbert Hockey
Rod Gilbert (THW Archive)

Gilbert thrived with Rattle in junior hockey games, scoring a total of 256 points in Guelph’s last three seasons. In the last year of the youth team, Gilbert played for his future blue shirt coach Emile “Cat” Francis. “In the second or third practice, I said to myself that this man will be the future of the New York Rangers,” Francis said.

However, Gilbert’s future was almost derailed by two setbacks. The first time was in the 1959-60 season, Rod’s third time at Biltmores. As Gilbert recalled, “Some people threw fragments on the ice, and I slipped on something and fell into the board. I can’t get up.”

The diagnosis result is not optimistic. Gilbert was told that in order to walk again—not to mention playing hockey—he needed spinal fusion. Fortunately for Rhodes, the operation was successful and the Rangers’ top prospects are back on the ice.

Gilbert’s ordeal

Gilbert played a regular season Blue shirts In the 1960-61 and 1961-62 seasons. Gilbert became famous in the 1963-64 season-his second full season-when the 22-year-old right-wing winger ranked second in the Rangers with 64 points and was selected for his first team. Star team.

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Although the Rangers struggled in the mid-1960s, Rhodes was the bright spot. In the 1964-65 season, he led the team for the first time with 25 points and 61 points respectively, and participated in his second All-Star Game. Gilbert embraced New York, and the city embraced him.

“Rhodes is a typical New York hockey player,” declared senior announcer and writer Stan Fischler. “He looks great, talented, and has adapted to Broadway like any player in the Big Apple.”

However, Gilbert’s road to fame suffered a final setback, which almost killed him. Gilbert’s bone graft broke during his first spinal fusion and needed a second operation. When Rod was on the operating table, he said that he had an out-of-body experience.

“I’m out. I’m dead,” Gilbert said. “When I was out, I heard Francis (in the operating room) tell the nurse,’Bring him back, he is my best player.’

“The fact that Emil used these words to nurses gave me a reason to return to my body.”

Rod Gilbert

After the ordeal behind him, Gilbert returned to the ice and became the central figure of the Blue Shirts again. Rod and Lataire reunited, This pair of partners by Vic Hadfield (Vic Hadfield) as the left-wing winger. They are called “GAG Line”, which refers to their average number of goals per game. This route is the most successful route in the history of the Rangers. Starting from the 1966-67 season, the team entered the playoffs nine consecutive times.

“Jean is the organizer, he is very smart,” Gilbert said. “He will put the puck in an area where I have to enter it and launch it.”

Rod Gilbert
Rod Gilbert, No. 7 in the New York Rangers (Photo: Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)

Rod scored an average of 29 goals in the three seasons of the 1966-67 and 1968-69 seasons, and scored 30 goals while leading the Rangers to the semifinals in the 1970-71 season. The following season is one of the best seasons in Blueshirts’ 87-year history.

exist 1971-72, Each member of GAG Line scored more than 40 goals. Hadfield set a record for the Rangers with 50 points, Rattle scored 109 points in 63 games, and Gilbert set a career high with 43 games and 97 points. The Rangers will enter the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 22 years that season. However, due to a fractured ankle, Ratelle’s playing rate was less than 100%, and the Blue Shirts were defeated by the Boston Bruins in six games.

It’s as close as Gilbert won the Stanley Cup in New York.

The end of a legendary career

Rod Gilbert (THW Archive)

From a statistical point of view, Rod end his old age with better numbers. In the past five full seasons, Gilbert has never scored less than 25 goals, nor has he scored less than 75 points. After working hard to start the 1977-78 season, he announced his retirement, ending his 18-year career with the Rangers.

Rod Gilbert retired with 406 goals and 615 assists in 1,065 games, scoring 1,021 points.He ranks first in goals and scoring in Rangers history, and second in assists (behind Only Brian Leach) And ranked third in the game (only behind Harry Howell And Leach). But Gilbert’s legacy surpassed his achievements on ice.

“Rhodes is our Rocket Richard,” Francis said. “When he came to the Rangers, we attracted eight or nine thousand people in a game. Once he got here, we could sell our own players in New York and let people see the Rangers.

“This is where he played such an important role in the history of the New York Rangers.”

On October 14, 1979, Gilbert’s No. 7 jersey was retired by the Rangers for the first time. A Hall of Fame player has played a key role on the ice of Madison Square Garden for nearly two decades. This is worthy of respect.

He is also a person worthy of the title of “Mr.”. Ranger. “

The THW archive contains more than 40,000 posts about hockey. Our goal is to share with you some of the treasures we have released over the years.

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