The Ontario Hockey League is saddened by the loss of alumnus and long-time NHL defenceman Bob Plager who passed away tragically in a car accident on Wednesday in St. Louis, Missouri. He was 78 years-old.
The second-oldest and last surviving of three brothers from Kirkland Lake, Ont., Plager got his start with the OHA’s Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters in 1959 before spending the following three seasons patrolling the blue line for the Guelph Royals.
Plager played a pair of professional seasons following graduation before making his NHL debut with the New York Rangers in 1964. He’d join the St. Louis Blues as an original member of the franchise in 1967 following a trade that saw Rod Seiling join the Rangers in exchange. Plager joined older brother Barclay, playing eleven seasons on the back end in St. Louis before finishing his NHL career with 146 points (20-126–146) and 802 penalty minutes over 644 regular season games. His No. 5 is one of seven numbers retired by the Blues.
“It is unimaginable to imagine the St. Louis Blues without Bobby Plager,” the Blues said in a statement on their website. “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.”
Plager was a large reason why the Blues reached the Stanley Cup Final their first three seasons, being swept by Montreal in 1968 and 1969 before being ousted by Bobby Orr’s Boston Bruins in 1970.
Plager was a mainstay in St. Louis following his retirement, serving as the 16th coach in franchise history to begin the 1992-93 season while also serving in various roles including director of professional scouting, vice president and director of player development, a special assistant to the general manager, assistant to the director of hockey operations, coach for the Blues’ Central Hockey League Salt Lake City affiliate, and was a scout for St. Louis, handling special assignments.
In recent years, Plager had been working with the Blues in their community relations department. He also served as an analyst on KMOX radio during Blues home games and on postgame shows.
Plager leaves behind his daughter, Melissa, his son, Bobby, two grandchildren and countless fans in St. Louis and throughout hockey.
For more on the life and career of Bob Plager visit NHL.com.