Bob Plager, an NHL legend who spent most of his career with the St. Louis Blues, died in a car accident on Wednesday. He was 78 years old. The two-vehicle accident happened around 1:30 p.m. on Highway 40 in St. Louis.
"It is unimaginable to imagine the St. Louis Blues without Bobby Plager," the Blues said in a statement. 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."
Plager, a defenseman, joined the Blues when they joined the NHL in 1976. He played 14 seasons in the NHL, including 11 with the Blues, and helped the team reach the Stanley Cup Finals for three consecutive seasons. The Blues retired Plager's jersey in 2017.
"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," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "... Respected by fellow players for his toughness, he was beloved by teammates for his welcoming personality and forged a fierce bond with St. Louis fans that would last his entire life. The National Hockey League family mourns the tragic passing of a true St. Louis original and send our condolences to his daughter, Melissa, his son, Bobby, his two grandchildren and his countless fans in St. Louis and throughout hockey."
When Plager retired from hockey, he joined the Blues front office. He also did a little bit of coaching, being the head man for the Blues in 1992. However, Plager only lasted 11 games before going back to the front office, serving as the vice president of player development. He then stayed on the Blues as a team ambassador.