Rod Gilbert scored 406 goals and 1,021 points in 1,065 career NHL games. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Status: Former NHL right winger for the New York Rangers from 1960-1978.
DOB: July 1, 1941 In: Montreal
Nicknames: "Blackie. Noireau - it's Blackie in French. Because my hair was pitch black. When I came up here my brother's nickname was Rock, so he named me Rocky, because I was injured quite a lot. They got me to go into the corners, so because of my perseverance they called me Rocky."
Hobbies/Leisure Activities: “My favorite is golf actually, in the summer. I picked up golf when I was 15-16, coming home from junior hockey. I enjoyed emulating the same motion (as a slap shot) and I was good at it and I enjoyed the game. It was a beautiful pastime."
Favorite Movies: "I'm a big Jack Nicholson fan. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I enjoyed that probably the most."
Hockey Inspirations: "Growing up in Montreal my main man was ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion of the Montreal Canadiens. The reason is, his uncle used to hang out with my father at his blacksmith shop. And he kept telling me how his nephew ‘Boom Boom’ could really slap the puck and the reason they nicknamed him ‘Boom Boom’ was because of his slapshot. He was playing the point and he scored 50 goals for the Canadiens, where it was unheard of. And even won the scoring title when he beat Rocket Richard (he won the title twice). And of course my other favorite player was Jean Beliveau. And then at the age of 16 Jean Ratelle and I went to Guelph, Ontario. Andy Bathgate, star of the New York Rangers, played in Guelph. He left his legacy there as one of the best juniors, so I started emulating him. And then I got to meet him and play with him on the Rangers for three years. And I also got to play against him - he played for Toronto Maple Leafs. He's one of my favorite people."
First Job: "Worked with my dad shoveling horse manure in the garage for 25 cents a week. My first real paying job. I was an altar boy for five cents a mass. I got to save my money, put it in the bank, and bought me my first pair of skates. It took me probably from six years to probably 12 years old when I first accumulated $14.00 with all the five cents to buy me my first pair of skates. But it was a good pair."
Favorite Meal: "My whole career my pre-game meal was a steak, baked potato and string beans."
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: "Vanilla. Very boring. But I usually dress it up real good with hot fudge, butterscotch, caramel."
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: "Embarrassing stuff is like when you're trying to control your anger out there. And I put my whole team in the hole one time. I got a penalty that I didn't deserve. I sort of tried to throw my stick on the side, pretending to hit it against the boards. And it got caught in my glove and went into the stands. It was one of my best sticks. And I'm begging to get it back. Guy said, 'Yeah, right.' So not only did I get a penalty, I lost my stick. (This happened in) Boston, in the playoffs. I was very upset and embarrassed, too. It was in 1972, when we played in the final. That's why it's so vivid. We were playing for the Stanley Cup."
Greatest Sports Moment: "As a player, probably when we defeated Russia in 1972. Team Canada had been challenged by the Russians for the first time as professionals. Confrontation - four games in Canada, four games in Moscow. And it got voted the Sporting Event of the Century. So we happen to win in Moscow. The series had been tied 3-3, one tie. We won the eighth game. That's probably my Stanley Cup in my career. And in Canada, when we came back, all the people there, we had some reception. And people, some 30 years later haven't forgot. We were introduced in the Hall of Fame as a team - in the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Canadian Hall of Fame. So it's wonderful."
Most Painful Moment: "Oh boy, my career took a bad turn when I was 19. I stepped on a piece of debris on the ice and cracked my fourth vertebrae and was paralyzed for two months. A possibly career-ending injury. Took me to the Mayo Clinic and performed a spinal fusion. (It happened in) Guelph with one game left in junior. I was scheduled to come up with the New York Rangers. It was really traumatic, psychologically. I didn't skate for eight months. I was pretty positive the whole time, but there was doubt that I'd ever skate again."
Favorite Uniforms: "New York Rangers. I was really upset after playing many years when (GM John) Ferguson had changed the uniform to the square (shield logo). I was upset. So Fred Shero brought it back."
Closest Hockey Friends: "I admired and became almost like a brother to Brad Park. He came in maybe six years after me. And I became his mentor. He showed me a lot of dedication and leadership. I was the godfather to his first child. And to this day we're still friends."
Funniest Players Encountered: "One of my favorite one-liners was Pete Stemkowski. We're still friends and I see him a lot. He always comes up with one-liners. I like to wear new suits an awful lot. Every time he sees me with a new suit, 'Geez Rock, nice suit. Who shines it for you?' That type of humor. He's wonderful."
Toughest Competitors Encountered: "I classify two types of individuals: played the game hard and hit clean; then there were the Gordie Howes of the world, who when you weren't looking, you'd receive an elbow on the side of the head or a butt-end in the ribs. I never appreciated the tactics of cheap shots. There was a lot of guys in the league who got away with stuff and I didn't respect that. There were some clean hitters, guys like Tim Horton, Leo Boivin. The guys who you knew were going to hit you, but you took it. You were upset, you were hurt, but you say: 'Well at least it wasn't cheap. I should have kept my head up or something.' There were some good hitters."
Funny Hockey Memory: "Yeah, there are a million stories. All the players - we all had our little idiosyncrasies and jokes and practical jokes. And everybody was playing tricks like sending guys on a date with a girl who doesn't show up. Calling for wake-up calls. Putting soda machines in front of doors so guys couldn't come out. There were a number of things that we could write books about. But we choose not to (smiles)."
Favorite Players To Watch: "There are a number of stars today. I enjoyed watching Mario Lemieux. My days of course, I hope I didn't watch him too much - Bobby Orr. We could probably have done better against them if I wasn't so mystified by him. Wayne Gretzky was a tremendous playmaker. I enjoy finesse - like Yvan Cournoyer was incredible. Dymanic. Jumpin'. Burst of speed. Very admirable."
People Qualities Most Admired: "I've surrounded myself with people who are generous and take care of other people and support the different charities of New York."
Mark 'Scoop' Malinowski's second book "Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew" will be available on www.amazon.com in September. Malinowski is the creator of two websites: www.thebiofile.com and www.tennis-prose.com
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