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ST. LOUIS – Bobby Plager was more than a beloved hockey player. Fans say the Ontario native embraced the St. Louis community in a way that led to them embracing him. 

St. Louisans who met Plager remember his humor, kindness, and generosity. Most would even describe no. 5 as a friend.

People at the Centene Community Ice Center would frequently see Plager around the rinks. He was watching practices and games, sharing hockey history and stories with players and coaches.

High school hockey player Tyler Catalano said Plager was a positive force.

“Telling us his experience, making us laugh; just an all-around good guy,” Catalano said.

It’s difficult for folks to find just the right words that describe how important he was to the sport.

“It’s a big loss for the hockey community in St. Louis,” hockey coach Jeff Lovecchi said. “It’s a sad day.”

Bobby’s Place Bar and Grill in Valley Park closed early as soon as workers learned of the tragic news.

“He was hardcore Blues and really St. Louis,” owner Tom Maurer said.

The walls of the establishment are covered with photos of Bobby Plager and his two brothers, Barclay and Bill. All three played for the Blues at the same time.

One of the owners said he came in frequently to talk to customers, families, and kids who played the game. Bobby Plager never met a stranger.

“Just a great human,” Maurer said. “One of those guys you don’t replace. You just treasure the time you had with him.”

At OB Clark in Brentwood, hockey fans shared their fond memories of the once bruising defenseman. They believe Bobby probably rejoiced the loudest when the Blues finally won a Stanley Cup.

“He took that it was almost like he won it too, and I love that, that kind of energy,” said fan Andrew Foley.

He’s a man who will live on in the hearts of so many people.

“He was a gentleman. He was an everyman’s guy,” Chris Desloge said. “You could meet him and have a conversation with him no matter who you were, he was just one of those fabulous folks.”

One woman who knew him well told me how he loved his family and adored his grandchildren.

“You could just see his love for the city,” Blues fan Alec Hernandez said.

He drove to the Enterprise Center after learning about Plager’s death. Hernandez left behind a note he wrote on a St. Louis Blues calendar from the Stanley Cup championship season, thanking Plager for his contributions to St. Louis. 

“We lost a great guy today,” said Blues fan Terry Mueller. She left behind flowers outside the Enterprise Center and hopes the Blues will find a way to honor Plager’s memory during their next home game.

Hocky fan Brad Lorenz came to the Enterprise Center to reflect on the times he met Plager.  

“I just wanted to pay my respects to the ultimate Blue,” he said.  

“There was no greater representative of the St. Louis Blues or a greater representative of sports in the St. Louis Community,” said Tim Moore, president of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame. 

Plager was inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. 

“I saw how kind and gentle he was and how devoted he was to the St. Louis community,” said Moore. “He was always there for anybody who asked.” 

The cause of Plager’s death has not yet been released. He was involved in a two-vehicle crash Monday afternoon on Interstate 64 near the Tower Grove overpass. 

Plager was 78.