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How did Bobby Plager die? Blues legend remembered as 'master of hip-check' after horrific car accident at 78

Plager wore many hats as part of the Blues, as former player, executive, head coach and franchise ambassador. He joined the Blues during their inaugural season in 1967-68
UPDATED MAR 25, 2021
Bob Plager (Getty Images)
Bob Plager (Getty Images)

NHL legend Bob Plager died at the age of 78 this Wednesday, March 24. As one of the original members of the Blues, he played 14 seasons in the NHL — 11 of those were with the Saint Louis Blues. He wasn't alone though, it was a family affair as his brothers, Barclay and Bille, were also part of the Blues team.

The icon's jersey was reportedly retired on February 2, 2017. When the news of his death hit the public, tributes started to pour in on social media with fans in shock about the tragic incident.


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An old photo of Robert Plager (Twitter)

How did Bobby Plager die?

The Blues legend was in a car accident on Wednesday, March 24, described as a "two-vehicle wreck" by ESPN and it took place at approximately 1.30 pm on Highway 40 (Interstate 64) in St Louis. The official account of the Saint Louis Blues tweeted, "Our hearts are broken after learning of the passing of Bobby Plager. It is unimaginable to imagine the St Louis Blues without Bobby." 


In a statement, the team said, "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," the statement added.

Bob Plager of the St Louis Blues celebrates the Stanley Cup victory following the Blues win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on June 12, 2019, in Boston, Massachusetts (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The publication also reported that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said, "Few men in the history of our game were more closely connected to a city and a franchise than Bob Plager was to St Louis and the Blues."

"Respected by fellow players for his toughness, he was beloved by teammates for his welcoming personality and forged a fierce bond with St Louis fans that would last his entire life. The National Hockey League family mourns the tragic passing of a true St Louis original and send our condolences to his daughter, Melissa, his son, Bobby, his two grandchildren and his countless fans in St. Louis and throughout hockey," he added in a statement.

Bob Plager of the St. Louis Blues celebrates the Stanley Cup victory following the Blues win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on June 12, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.

'Master of the hip check'

Plager wore many hats as part of the Blues, as former player, executive, head coach and franchise ambassador. He started in 1964 with the New York Rangers and joined the Blues during their inaugural season in 1967-68. He and his brothers played four seasons with the team. He then moved his focus to the front office and was named the 16th Head Coach in franchise history in 1992 but resigned after 11 games.

He went back to his position as vice president of player development. He was there when the team won its first Stanley Cup title in 2019. Besides having a huge fan base across many age groups, the Kirkland Lake-raised talent's death brings a dark shadow on the NHL community. 

Bobby Plager (Anthony @ApexPredat0r07/Twitter)

Heartwarming tributes attesting to Plager's excellence and loyalty to his community and fan base took over Twitter, especially the Blues fans. "Has there ever been a person that was more synonymous with a franchise, more beloved by a fan base, and served more roles for that organization for as big of a percentage of its existence than Bobby Plager was for the @StLouisBlues? A Blue to his very core," wrote one user.

Another added, "I've scrolled Twitter for hours and I'm still at a loss for words. I am stunned at the loss of Bobby Plager. The impact he had on generations of Blues fans will never be forgotten and his ambassadorship will never be replaced. #RIPBobbyPlager."



"Bobby Plager was one of the greatest #stlblues icons of all time His impact spans far beyond his play on the ice, and his legacy will touch the city of St. Louis for years to come A St. Louis sports legend to the highest degree," tweeted another fan with a video of the player.

Another added, "You'll never find a kinder person or better ambassador for the #stlblues. RIP Bobby Plager #5. Glad the team got you your Cup and will never forget how you shared it with your brother Barclay."



The way he played the game showcased his skill in the sport and fans seem to remember the one move he was known for. "One of the many things I'll remember about Bobby Plager was his devastating hip-check. The man could flat out destroy an opponent with his patented hip-check!! #RIPBobbyPlager #stlblues," wrote a fan along with a nostalgic throwback picture.

Another added, "RIP to Mr Blue, Bobby Plager. The master of the hip check lived long enough to see his boys win the Cup. That is the one solace today."