ST. LOUIS — St. Louis sports have lost an icon. Blues legend Bob Plager, 78, died Wednesday after a car crash on I-64 in St. Louis.
Plager was born on March 11, 1943 in Kirkland, Ontario in Canada.
Plager was an original member of the Blues, joining the team as a defenseman in their inaugural season of 1967-68. He played 11 of his 14 years in the NHL in St. Louis, scoring 20 goals and notching 121 assists as a Blue. He also served as the team's captain for a few seasons in the 1970s.
As a player, Plager was known for his effective hip check and was one of the most feared players on the ice. Plager ranks seventh all-time in Blues history in games played with 615, and 10th in penalty minutes with 762.
After his playing years, Plager became even more beloved by the St. Louis hockey community.
He served as Blues head coach for a period in 1992, was the coach of the year in the AHL for the Blues' affiliate in Peoria in 1990-91, was the franchise's director of professional scouting, special assistant to the general manager, assistant to the director of hockey operations and a scout for the Blues.
But his most notable impact on the franchise was his unofficial role as ambassador. If it had to do with the Blues, you were bound to see Bobby Plager in attendance.
Plager had his No. 5 retired by the Blues in 2017, and it hangs in the rafters alongside his brother, Barclay's retired No. 8.
Barclay passed away from a cancerous brain tumor in 1988. When the Blues finally won the Stanley Cup in 2019, Bob took the famous trophy to his brother's gravesite.
For 50 years, Bob Plager wanted nothing more than to see that parade come down Market Street celebrating the Blues as Stanley Cup champions. He got that wish after the Blues beat the Boston Bruins in seven games. Plager was front and center riding down Market Street.
The Blues remembered Plager in a statement Wednesday:
“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. 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.”
Remembering a Blues legend:
- 'It meant the world to my father' | The ring that bonded St. Louis Blues legends Dan Kelly and Barclay Plager
- June 12, 2019 | A date St. Louis will never forget
- Blues share emotional video of Bob Plager taking the Stanley Cup to his late brother Barclay's grave
- A look back at the worst player-fan-police fight in hockey history — and it involved the Blues
- After all these years, Bob Plager gets his parade