Former Blues Defenseman Bobby Plager Dies After Car Crash at Age 78

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIMarch 24, 2021

Former St. Louis Blues player Bob Plager waves to fans while speaking during a ceremony to retire his number before an NHL hockey game between the Blues and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Longtime NHL defenseman Bobby Plager died after a car crash in St. Louis at the age of 78 on Wednesday.

Plager spent 14 years in the NHL—11 of them with the St. Louis Blues and another three with the New York Rangers.

In a statement remembering Plager, the Blues once again shared the love for the man whose No. 5 was retired in 2017:

"It is unimaginable to imagine the St. Louis Blues without Bobby Plager.

"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.

"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."

Tributes to Plager began flooding social media as news of his death became public.

St. Louis Blues @StLouisBlues

Doug Armstrong shared a statement on the passing of Bobby Plager. https://t.co/eFVcQygsQS #stlblues https://t.co/VAB4Uggipc

Jeremy Rutherford @jprutherford


Mayor Lyda Krewson @LydaKrewson

A sad day for St. Louis as we mourn the passing of a true hockey legend. I join thousands of fans in sending my condolences to the family and friends of the great Bobby Plager and the entire @StLouisBlues organization. Thank you Bobby for years of memories on and off the ice. #5

Benjamin Hochman @hochman

Bobby Plager. Rest In Peace. He was the toughest, nastiest Blue and the nicest, sweetest man. He was a part of the St. Louis Blues’ culture from the very first year. He’ll be part of the Blues’ culture forever. https://t.co/T9ysRp5Lrh

Aaron Portzline @Aportzline

Awful news out of St. Louis today that Blues legend Bobby Plager has died in a car accident. Obviously touched a lot of lives in hockey and beyond. There are many connections between #CBJ and @StLouisBlues. Deep sympathy and condolences to all who were lucky to call him friend. https://t.co/xAbJ238hx2

Michelle Bogowith @MBogowith

Heartbroken to hear the passing of the great Bobby Plager. So lucky to have met this genuine, kind-hearted legend. #RIPBobby https://t.co/NrNr88LNaJ

Chantal Machabee @ChantalMachabee

Triste nouvelle..RIP Bob Plager! 🙏 https://t.co/jChI6NYzvP

Emily Manley @EmilyManleyTV

The Missouri House just took a moment of silence in memory of Blues legend Bobby Plager who died in a car accident earlier today in STL. #moleg #mogov #stlblues https://t.co/qoTmP0eFvp

After retiring in 1978, Plager became a member of the Blues' front office, where he helped advance the scouting department before making a short transition to coaching—first with the St. Louis affiliate Peoria Rivermen and later 11 games with the Blues—but he chose to resign and returned to the role of vice president of player development.

Plager was one of the original Blues players on the inaugural team and had a chance to skate in St. Louis alongside his brothers Bill and Barclay. For his NHL playing career, he recorded 20 goals, 121 assists and 141 points over 616 games while earning 760 penalty minutes.

An investigation into the crash remains ongoing.