Rod Gilbert is a New York Ranger that needs no introduction. Spending 18 seasons in the NHL, all on Broadway, Gilbert smashed Rangers’ offensive records by scoring 406 goals and adding 615 points for 1021 points. Always one of the most likable Rangers, Rod can still be seen at Madison Square Garden, talking to fans, and most importantly, donating a lot of his time to various children’s organizations, namely, the Garden of Dreams foundation. I wish there was more I could say, but for those that saw him play, that speaks for itself, and for those of us not old enough, what we can rely on are stories from older generations of fans, who revere Rod as we revere Mark Messier or Henrik Lundqvist.
Anyway, on to the actual interview, a few weeks ago I was contacted by Rod’s PR man Adam Bzura, who told me about a new product that Rod was promoting, something called the “Power Arm” (linked below) which helps athletes, both professional and aspiring, to build up upper body strength and conditioning. Intrigued, I asked to have an interview with Rod, and Adam obliged. I asked him about his product, and more, in our conversation below:
GC: How does strength and conditioning during the time when you played compare to what it is like today?
RG: There is a total revolution in strength and conditioning in today’s players. Teams require the full report of a specialized coach from each player that have been instructed to keep in rigid condition all year round. No such thing was imposed during my career and most players would adapt a very lax and non-strenuous off-season.
GC: What were off-season workout habits like during the 1960’s and 70’s?
RG: In the 1960’s and 70’s, workouts consisted of players playing golf or traveling around the United States and to Europe. At most, some players would do some light runs but it would only be in August, if anything. Things were much more relaxed back then. The NHL off-season and in-season conditioning is completely different from when I played.
GC: How does the “Power Arm” help hockey players to build up strength? And what made you want to get involved with such a product?
RG: You often hear that the most skillful players have soft hands in many sports. Whether it is baseball, basketball, golf, or tennis, possessing strong forearms is also essential to reach your full potential as an athlete. As a kid, a bulky device consisting of a 12 inch stick with a weight on a rope existed that some Canadian athletes used. My dad created one of these tools for me, and I often refer to this as a tremendous asset to the development of my great shot. Unfortunately, the device was not very practical, it wasn’t readily available, and therefore was not utilized as much as it should have been. It had always been my intention to reintroduce this device but in a more simple and practical form; that’s why I invented the Power Arm. My desire is to see every young aspiring athlete using it.
GC: Can you tell us what you do for the Rangers as the Director of Special Projects and Community Relations?
RG: My position with the Rangers entails many functions. I am the Goodwill Ambassador, President of Rangers’ Alumni, I coach youngsters, and attend many of the games entertaining special fans. The Rangers have an incredible organization and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it.
GC: Out of all the years you played for the Rangers, you must have many special memories. If you could pick just one that stands out, what would it be and why?
RG: There are so many memorable events in my 18 year career, all with the Rangers. It is difficult to pick just one. The playoffs against the Maple Leafs stands out. After serious back surgery, it was doubtful I could play in the NHL. I was called up to replace Ken Schinkel, a right wing that got injured. On my very first shift, I scored a goal against Johnny Bower for my first NHL goal.
GC: Finally, if you could pick just one NHL player to build a team around, who would it be and why?
RG: If I was starting a team in the NHL, I would consider the goaltending position the most important position to build a team around. The goaltender is so essential to a team and a good goaltender can keep a team in a game single handedly. So if I were to chose one person, Henrik Lundqvist would be my first choice.
I would like to thank Rod for taking the time to conduct this interview, and Adam for setting it up. It was really special to get a chance to interview such a legendary member of the New York Rangers.