Rod Gilbert, the NewYork Rangers all-time leading scorer known as Mr. Ranger, died Sunday at the age of 80.
Born and raised Catholic in the Canadian province of Quebec, Gilbert was honored in 2013 with the John V. Mara Sportsmanship Award at the 77th annual CYO Club of Champions Dinner in 2013. In 2018, he attended the CYO dinner where former Rangers goalie Mike Richter received the Mara Sportsmanship Award. Also in 2018, Gilbert was at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Rusty Staub’s Memorial Mass that also was attended by Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, former Mets owner Jeff Wilpon and Mets television analyst and former pitcher Ron Darling, former Mets manager and player Bobby Valentine, and former Mets John Franco and Lee Mazzilli.
“Growing up in a Catholic household, saying the Rosary once a week with my mom and going to Mass was part of my childhood and something that just to this day has remained with me,” Gilbert said at the 2013 dinner.
“When I came to New York, I came with my friend Frank Gifford (a former New York Giants star, a National Football League Hall of Famer and the 1963 recipient of the CYO Club of Champions John V. Mara award) to a CYO event and ever since then I’ve remained close to the organization,” Gilbert added. “The CYO represents a lot of good and I’m proud to be here tonight.”
Gilbert played all 18 of his NHL seasons with the Rangers, finishing with team records of 406 goals and 1021 points. His 615 assists are second to Brian Leetch’s 741.
Gilbert’s No. 7 was the first number retired by the Rangers. The eight-time NHL All-Star was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982.
“Everyone in the Rangers organization mourns the loss of a true New York icon,” said Rangers President and General Manager Chris Drury in a release from the team. “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 is survived by his wife, Judy; his children, Chantal, Justin, Holly, and Brooke; his grandchildren, Arielle, Owen, Kaya, Jordyn, Lila, Logan, and Damon; and his siblings, Jean Marie and André.