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New York Rangers to wear No. 7 patch to honor Rod Gilbert

NEW YORK -- The Rangers will honor late Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert this season by wearing a patch featuring his No. 7 on their jerseys, the team announced Thursday.

Players will also wear white "Gilbert" jerseys as warm-ups before their home opener at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 14. The jerseys will be signed and auctioned off for charity.

That game takes place on the 42nd anniversary of Gilbert becoming the first Rangers player to have his number retired. It's against the Dallas Stars almost 44 years since he had two points on "Rod Gilbert Night" against the Minnesota North Stars.

New York is also creating the Rod Gilbert "Mr. Ranger" award to recognize the player who best honors his legacy by showing leadership on and off the ice and making contributions to the community. It's the franchise's first new award since 1988.

Gilbert died in August at age 80.

From Montreal, Gilbert spent his entire 18-year NHL career with the Rangers -- a career that was nearly derailed in 1960 when he broke a vertebra in his back after slipping on garbage on the ice while playing for Guelph in the junior Ontario Hockey Association.

Gilbert recovered and ended up with 406 goals and 615 assists in 1,065 regular-season games, along with 34 goals and 33 assists in 79 playoff games. He holds Rangers records for goals and points.