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On This Date in Sports February 19, 1977: Gilbert 1K

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Rod Gilbert becomes the first member of the New York Rangers to reach 1,000 career points. Gilbert’s 1,000th point comes on a goal in the middle of the second period, giving the Rangers a brief 2-1 lead. The New York Islanders would rally and spoil Gilbert’s night by trashing the Rangers 5-2 at Nassau Coliseum. Rod Gilbert would retire in 1978, finishing with 1,065 points, including 406 goals, both franchise records for the Rangers.


Rodrigue Gabriel Gilbert was born on July 1, 1941, in Montreal. Gilbert’s career nearly ended before it even started as he suffered a severe injury while playing Junior Hockey with the Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters of the OHA in 1960. The young forward stepped on debris thrown on the ice and fell backward in the board, breaking his back and suffering temporary paralysis. After undergoing surgery, Rod Gilbert suffered complications and nearly had his leg amputated. 


After finishing his junior career with the Guelph Royals, Rod Gilbert signed with the New York Rangers in 1961. The early part of Gilbert’s career was marked by constant pain as he needed a second spinal infusion in 1965. After recovering from the second surgery, Gilbert became a top player in New York and was the heart of the Ranger’s GAG Line (Goal a Game). When the Rangers became Stanley Cup contenders, it was Rod Gilbert who became fan favorite and the face of the franchise, often appearing in local commercials. 


Rod Gilbert spent his entire career with the New York Rangers, leading them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1972, their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in two decades. Rod Gilbert was an eight-time All-Star and the winner of the Bill Masterton Award, given for perseverance and dedication to hockey in 1976. When he reached the 1,000-point milestone, Gilbert was the 11th player in NHL history with to do it and the only player to ever do it with the Rangers. 


Following the 1976/77 season, Rod Gilbert found himself in a contract dispute with the Rangers. Though he began the season, Gilbert decided to call it a career 19 games into the season. Rod Gilbert’s final numbers saw him score 406 goals, with 615 assists and 1,021 points all franchise records with the Rangers. 


On October 14, 1979, the New York Rangers retired #7 in honor of Rod Gilbert. It was the first number ever retired by the Rangers. Three years later, he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.