Paying tribute to much-loved St. Louis Blues legend Bob Plager

Bob Plager of the St. Louis Blues. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bob Plager of the St. Louis Blues. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

We lost a legend on Wednesday after St. Louis Blues icon Bob Plager died in a car accident.

It was a tragic night in the National Hockey League on Wednesday after news broke that Bob Plager had tragically died in a car accident at 78-years-old. The incredibly sad crash took place on Highway 40 (Interstate 64) in St. Louis.

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You only had to be on social media last night to see how much Plager meant to the St. Louis Blues organization, and to the hockey world in general with former and current players, coaches, members of the media and fans uniting in their grief.

In a period of time that has tested us to the extreme and beyond, this was another tough, tough day as the hockey community and family lost a true giant of the game and a real cherished gentleman off the ice.

Plager was a defenseman who began his NHL career with the New York Rangers in 1964, recording five points (0 G, 5 A) in 29 games across three seasons before joining the expansion team the St. Louis Blues in 1967.

It turned out to be a match made in heaven as Plager established himself as a mainstay on the St. Louis blueline, becoming a focal point of a hugely successful Blues team that went to three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals in their first three years in the NHL (1968, 1969, 1970).

Bob Plager
Family members of former St. Louis Blues player Bob Plager watch as his number is raised to the rafter. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/ Getty Images) /

Paying tribute to St. Louis Blues great, Bob Plager

Plager played 11 seasons with the St. Louis Blues and the tough-nosed blueliner recorded 141 points (20 G, 121 A) in 616 career regular season games for the Blues, in addition to appearing in 74 postseason games for the franchise. He ranks 10th in Blues history with 616 games played and 762 penalty minutes.

What most endeared Plager to Blues fans, though, was his hard-hitting, gritty and fearless approach to the game of hockey, and he quickly became known for his ability to hit like a train, thunderous bodychecks and the appetite to drop the gloves when needed.

And it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to suggest that Bob Plager is a huge reason why the Blues became such a cherished part of the sporting landscape in St. Louis, where they remain a key cornerstone of the community to this day.

It is no surprise, then, that Plager had his No. 5 jersey retired by the Blues and his family will forever have strong ties with St. Louis given that Bob’s two brothers, Barclay and Bill, both played for the Blues with Barclay spending 10 years with the team (1967-68 – 1976-77) and Bill four seasons (1968-69 – 1971-72).

Bob retired a fan favorite but his legend only grew in St. Louis as he took on a plethora of different roles with the Blues, serving as the team’s Head Coach for a brief period in 1992-93 before serving as Director of Professional Scouting, Vice President and Director of Player Development, Special Assistant to the General Manager, Assistant to the Director of Hockey Operations, a Scout and as a coach for the Blues’ Central Hockey League Salt Lake City affiliate.

Plager later served as an ambassador for the franchise as well as working as an analyst on KMOX Radio and working in the Blues’ Community Relations Department, while he finally got his hands on the Stanley Cup after St. Louis won their first championship in franchise history in 2019.

It brings joy and warmth to the heart to know that Plager got his time with Lord Stanley, and it was clear when you watch back the celebrations just how much the victory and the aftermath meant to Plager, who dedicated so much of his life to the St. Louis Blues.

And, from former Blues in Patrick Maroon and T.J. Oshie to current players in David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly, it was clear just how much Bob Plager and his love for the St. Louis Blues meant to those players who came after him.

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In many ways, Plager, who also opened a restaurant in St. Louis, was the very heartbeat of the Blues and his fingerprints can be found all over the franchise from top to bottom.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Bob’s family and friends and the entire St. Louis Blues organization at this very sad time.

Rest In Peace, Bob Plager.