Even at 78 years old, Bob Plager left us too soon.
Known as “Mr. Blue”, Plager tragically passed away on March 24th in a two-car accident off I-64 in St. Louis. When it was confirmed he was the passenger that had passed away, immediately tributes started pouring out from former and current Blues’ players, fans across the world, and even NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“Few men in the history of our game were more closely connected to a city and a franchise than Bob Plager was to St. Louis and the Blues,” Bettman said in a statement. “In the lineup for the Blues’ inaugural game on Oct. 11, 1967, he assisted on the first goal in franchise history and committed the Blues’ first penalty that night – thus commencing a 54-year association with the organization.”
The St. Louis Blues also released an official statement on Plager’s passing…
“It is unimaginable to imagine the St. Louis Blues without Bobby Plager,” the team said. “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.”
Known for his physical playing style – most notably his famous hip checks – Plager played with the Blues for 11 seasons, four of them alongside his two brother Barclay and Bill Plager. In their first three seasons in the NHL, the Blues made the Stanley Cup, although they fell short each time.
From Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Plager played 29 games in parts of three seasons with the Rangers before coming over to the Blues. In 644 regular season games in the NHL, Plager had 20 goals, 126 assists and 802 penalty minutes. He added two goals, 17 assists and 195 penalty minutes in 74 career playoff games.
Following his playing career, Plager remained with the Blues organization in a variety of roles, including a brief period as head coach in 1992, though left the role not too long after. His reasoning was it made him miserable.
But through it all, Plager bled blue. He was beloved in St. Louis, and during their miraculous 2019 Stanley Cup run, Plager was at the center of it, attending games and recording pregame hype videos for the crowd. When the Blues defeated the Bruins in seven games, he finally got to hoist the Stanley Cup, and even got to spend a day with it.
The first place he went with it? His brother’s graves.
In 2017, the Blues retired Plager’s No. 5 jersey, joining his brother Barclay’s No. 8 in the rafters of the Enterprise Center.
Our lead Blues writer, Zack DeGrande, wrote a tribute of his own for Bob Plager:
“Bobby Plager was a god send for St. Louis, not just sports but the city as a whole. Whether he was taking pictures with kids at a local rink, paying a visit to fans at one of his many local restaurants or serenading the Blues into a cup victory; You knew Bobby just loved this city and would do anything for it. We can’t forget the moment he got to hoist the cup over his head, such an incredibly emotional moment for him to experience that for himself and also his late brother whom he played in STL with for years. I think the thing we have to remember most about Bobby is his infectious smile he always had on his face, if you met him, you surely weren’t to forget it. Rest in heaven and watch over us Bobby.”
Hey Bobby, we love you. And thank you for over 50 years making millions of people happy.
We’ll never forget you.
(Photo Credit: NHL.com)