ST. LOUIS – The Blues confirmed that Bob Plager, the beloved former player, executive, head coach and longtime franchise ambassador, died Wednesday following a two-vehicle accident on I-64 eastbound near Vandeventer. It happened around 1:30 pm. He was 78.
The team announced the news late Wednesday afternoon.
“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,” the team said in a statement.
“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.”
Plager is one of the most revered figures in St. Louis Blues franchise history. He broke into the NHL with the New York Rangers in 1964, before joining the Blues for the franchise’s inaugural season in 1967-68. Plager and his brothers, Barclay and Bill, played four seasons together with the Blues, known for their rugged defense. Bob Plager’s hip checks were a staple during his ten years playing in St. Louis.
After his playing career, he served in a variety of roles in the front office and on the ice, including being named the 16th Head Coach in franchise history in 1992. He served as an ambassador in the community for decades. During the Blues’ improbable run to the team’s first Stanley Cup title in 2019, Plager was an ever-present figure behind the scenes, so nervous about the games that he couldn’t stand to watch them, as FOX2 Sports Director Martin Kilcoyne noted during the Finals against Boston.
When the team finally won the Stanley Cup, Plager was a vital part of the celebration.
Former players and fans were quick to offer praise and tributes Wednesday as word got out.