The primary particular person to greet Ron Duguay and present him New York when he joined the Rangers in 1977 was Rod Gilbert.
This was Duguay’s rookie NHL marketing campaign and turned out to be the final of Gilbert’s 18 seasons in New York, however that didn’t cease the long run Corridor of Famer and face of the franchise from welcoming the group’s first-round draft choose to the group.
Duguay, who now co-hosts The Publish’s Rangers podcast “Up within the Blue Seats,” remembered his former teammate and longtime pal Sunday evening after the Rangers introduced information of Gilbert’s passing at 80 earlier within the night.
“The primary time I walked into Madison Sq. Backyard to signal my contract, he was the primary man to satisfy me,” Duguay recalled in a telephone interview. “And he took me out that evening, too, form of a celebration, and that was the start of an extended relationship.
“He was such a likable person who he left an instantaneous impression on you. So sure, he was my introduction to the New York Rangers. And that stayed with me by way of all my time as a participant and my post-playing profession.”
After Duguay retired from the NHL in 1989, he and Gilbert labored collectively as group ambassadors and in numerous charitable endeavors as a part of the Backyard of Goals Basis.
“There was nobody higher at representing the Backyard, the franchise, the model, and representing all of us [alumni]. Everybody turned to Rod, all the time,” Duguay stated. “I noticed firsthand how a lot he appreciated the followers. He gave a lot of himself. Nothing was ever a hassle to him.
“Each single recreation he was there, he was there as a result of he loved to be there. He loved being him and having performed for the New York Rangers. I’d see what he meant to the followers, folks assembly him for the primary time. He was such a pleasure. All the time laughing. All the time a smile on his face. And the tales he’d inform.”
Earlier Sunday night, Duguay posted a video of a aim Brian Leetch scored in Recreation 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals in opposition to Vancouver. The digicam lower to the seats behind the penalty field and confirmed Gilbert giving Duguay a high-five.
“I by no means even knew this footage existed till in the present day,” Duguay stated. “I had the pleasure of being with Rod Gilbert when the Rangers lastly gained the Cup. He had his possibilities in his profession, but it surely clearly had been so lengthy [since 1940], and we celebrated collectively. I bought to expertise that with him.
“The Cup actually meant rather a lot to him, as a result of he was such part of the material of the group for therefore lengthy. To be with him when the Rangers lastly gained was a tremendous expertise.”
The 2 continued to work collectively by way of the following years, and Duguay stated he “would drop all the pieces to do something for that man” every time requested to seem at a group occasion, particularly one run by Gilbert.
“That title, Mr. Ranger, he took it significantly,” Duguay stated. “You’d see him in suite visits and strolling within the aisles, he’d cease for everybody who needed an image or an autograph. He completely liked it, and the followers adored him. And he by no means bought uninterested in any of it. That’s simply who he was.”