Hall of Fame forward Rod Gilbert passes away at the age of 80

We lost a good one on Sunday.


The hockey world is in mourning after the news of the passing of one of the game's great players.

Rod Gilbert, a Hall of Fame forward who spent his entire National Hockey League career with the New York Rangers, passed away on Sunday at the age of 80. 

A legend through and through, Gilbert is also a Canadian hero for helping his country to victory in the 1972 Summit Series. 

"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," Rangers owner James Dolan said in a 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."'

"Rod Gilbert's impact on the National Hockey League and the New York Rangers over the past 62 years was profound -- both on and off the ice,'' NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "As a player, he was revered by his teammates, respected by his opponents and absolutely beloved by Rangers fans."

It was a career that nearly didn't happen, as Gilbert was seriously injured while playing for Guelph in the junior Ontario Hockey Association after slipping and falling, resulting in a broken back vertebrae. 

Following his recovery, he'd go on to play 18 years in the NHL, and racking up 406 goals and 615 assists in 1,065 regular-season games and 34 goals and 33 assists in 79 playoff games. He would then be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982. 

On the international stage, he scored a goal and three assists in six games for Canada in their 8-game victory over the Soviet Union in the Summit Series.

The eight-time All-Star was the recipient of the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1976 as the NHL player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." He also earned the honor of being the first Rangers player to have his jersey number retired, as his No. 7 was raised to the rafters at Madison Square Garden on October 14, 1979.