"Holy cow! Am I going to Chicago or what" said Rod Gilbert to himself as he arrived at the New York Rangers' Madison Square Garden offices to thrash out the problems that seemingly were bringing his career with the NHL club to an end. There was Chi Black Hawk president William Wirtz chatting with Ranger president William Jennings. False alarm, and Gilbert has ended a bitter 11-day walkout and begun gearing up for his 17th Ranger campaign.

The popular right winger met for two hours with general manger John Ferguson and what both described as a breakdown in communications was patched up.Gilbert donned skates yesterday after, according to Ferguson. "There were apologies made on both sides . . . What really was bothering him, more than anything else, was that he felt he wasn't going to be part of the Rangers' youth movement. But I guess he was misled about that, because he'll be very much a part of it."

Gilbert, out $2,750 in fines for missing training, is a young 36 . . .

And Derek Sanderson is an old 31. The onetime Boston Bruin glamour boy, later a Ranger mate of Gilbert, was shipped back to the minors (Tulsa, CHL) yesterday by the NHL's Vancouver Conucks. It seemed inevitable since last week when Sanderson was off skates with a stomach ailment while the Canucks held his $160,000 contract as his fourth NHL club in four years.

Canuck GM Jake Milford said "I can't condone his attitude, which has shown absolutely no desire to help himself or the club, now or throughout the summer, when he admittedly caroused himself into this condition."

Sanderson, facing a physical that brought out he can try to play himself into shape, had said, "I'm really worried. I'm afraid this is it. I think it's ail over." He talked about a woman he was going to marry in North Dakota; the wedding was put off and the girl went to New York, where she is a model. "Makes a hundred grand," Sanderson said. "That would be a pretty good marriage right now. I'd make a great housekeeper" . . .