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08-06-2007, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by alkurtz View Post
Guys, slow down here a moment and appreciate one of the most important players in Ranger history, one who changed the fortunes and face of the franchise.
He was born in Montreal, and in those pre-draft days, anyone who played junior hockey in Quebec, belonged by default to the Montreal Canadians. Not wanting to be lost in the large Canadian development system, he left Montreal for a town that was in Ranger system (the crazy pre-draft system gave NHL teams the rights to any player in a town where they had a junior team). Not only did he become Ranger property, but he dragged his boyhood friend Jean Ratelle with him! By the insightful and courageous move, he changed the direction of the Rangers from doormat to contender. One of my first Ranger memories is of the 61-62 playoffs when he came up from the low minors and in 4 playoff games vs Toronto had 2 goals and 3 assists. He also had to undergo two spinal fusion operations that resulted from him slipping on something that had been thrown on the ice and hurting his back. I distinctly remember him on the bench in the old Garden with a heating pad on his back. He took a few years to develop, but along with Eddie Giacomin and Ratelle and Vic Hadfield, was the heart of the Francis era Ranger teams. A great player who always hustled and played with passion. In the "swinging 60s" his handsome looks and active social life got him a lot of publicity in the papers and helped elevate the Rangers status in New York. In the late 60s and early 70s, as opposed to today, the Rangers never had to fight for space in the NY sports scene. Gilbert was largely responsible for that. And, of course, he is in the HOF. So, cut the guy some slack, he was a great Ranger. All of you younger guys would have loved the way he played.
We all appreciate him, even though a lot of us never got to see him play.

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