Plager Brother Remembered as an Original

Defenseman was on the Blues from Day 1, and sought a Stanley Cup for a half-century
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 24, 2021 7:10 PM CDT
Plager Brother Remembered as an Original
Former St. Louis Blues player Bob Plager waves to fans during a ceremony to retire his jersey number in 2017.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Former St. Louis Blues defenseman Bob Plager was killed Wednesday in a car crash in St. Louis. He was 78. Plager was an original Blue, moving from the New York Rangers on draft day when the NHL expanded in 1967. He played 11 seasons for St. Louis—teaming with brothers Barclay and, for a time, Bill—then kept working for the organization in a variety of roles, the AP reports. He coached the team for 11 games in 1992. From Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Plager had 20 goals, 126 assists, and 802 penalty minutes in 644 regular-season NHL games, and added two goals, 17 assists, and 195 penalty minutes in 74 playoff games. His passion for hockey, penalty minute totals, and trademark hip check made him a fan favorite from the start. The Blues retired his No. 5 jersey in 2017, and it joined Barclay's No. 8 in the rafters. A team statement said it's hard to imagine the Blues without him, adding that he was "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."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman noted 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." After his playing career, fans appreciaterd Plager, dubbed Mr. Blue, as an ambassador of the game and raconteur, per the Post-Dispatch. He reached the Stanley Cup Finals three times as a player, but the Blues lost each time. In 2019, the team won its first Stanley Cup, and Plager was there. "I lived long enough" to see a Blues championship, he said at the time. "I'm going to see a few more." With their families, per, Plager later took the Stanley Cup to Barclay's gravesite, where they sipped champagne from it. "They use the expression to say someone is 'true blue,'" said Scotty Bowman, who coached him. "Well, no one could be more true Blue than him."

(Read more obituary stories.)

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