ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis sports world is in mourning after Blues legend Bob Plager died in a car crash on Wednesday on I-64 in St. Louis.
Plager will be remembered not only for his playing and management career with the Blues, but also for his embodiment of the fan base waiting more than half a century for that first Stanley Cup.
Plager was an original Blue, coming over to the team from the New York Rangers ahead of the team's inaugural season in 1967-1968.
As a player, Plager helped the Blues make it to three straight Stanley Cup Final appearances in 1968, 1969 and 1970 where the team was swept each time.
But Plager remained loyal to the franchise, serving in various roles since retirement from his playing days. He had his No. 5 retired in 2017, and two years later, would finally get the glory he had waited his entire career for with the Blues 2019 win in the Stanley Cup Final over Boston in 7 games.
"It's unreal. I had three chances, didn't make it. But tonight makes up for it all," Plager told 5 On Your Side's Frank Cusumano on the ice after the victory. "And whatever happened before this night makes up for it. Not just me, but for St. Louis, the fans, our players and our owners. It was very tough on me this series walking around, but I wanted it so bad. So bad."
The Blues' 2019 Stanley Cup Final win also got Plager the parade down Market Street he had always wanted, and he told Cusumano after the game that none other than the team's playoff MVP Ryan O'Reilly had guaranteed him he'd get that parade.
"I'm gonna get it (the parade) and there's a guy named O'Reilly this year who I gave him his sweater when he came in and I told him, 'You know I need a parade.' And he said, 'I'll get you one,'" Plager told Cusumano.
And you better believe Bobby Plager was front and center in the parade he had waited more than 50 years for.
"I got my parade. And it was a heck of a parade," Plager said on stage at the championship rally.
Following the Blues' win, Plager took the Stanley Cup to his brother Barclay's gravesite. Barclay was also a longtime member of the Blues family as a player and off the ice. Barclay died in 1988 from a brain tumor.
In the official statement from the Blues, the team asked fans to find peace and strength, knowing that Plager did get a chance to see his team finally win the Stanley Cup before he died.
“It is unimaginable to imagine the St. Louis Blues without Bob Plager. He was an original 1967 member of the St. Louis Blues, but also an original in every sense of the word. Bobby’s influence at all levels of the Blues organization was profound and everlasting, and his loss to our city will be deep," the Blues said in a statement. "Bobby liked to say he was No. 5 in our program, but No. 1 in our hearts. Today, our hearts are broken, but one day they will be warmed again by memories of his character, humor and strong love for his family, our community, the St. Louis Blues and generations of fans who will miss him dearly. The St. Louis Blues send all of our love and support to his family, and we hope everyone will find strength knowing that Bobby got his parade.”