St. Louis Blues great Bobby Plager dies in car crash at 78

Original St. Louis Blues player Bob Plager (5) attends player introductions before the home-opener between Blues and the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Diespatch via AP)

ST. LOUIS -- Former St. Louis Blues defenceman Bob Plager was killed Wednesday in a car crash in St. Louis. He was 78.

Police said Plager was alone in his vehicle when it collided with a vehicle carrying two women on Interstate 64 in St. Louis about 1:30 p.m. One of the women sustained minor injuries. No other details were released.

Plager was an original Blue, moving over from the New York Rangers when the NHL expanded in 1967-68. He played 11 seasons for St. Louis -- teaming for a stretch with brothers Barclay and Bill -- and later worked for the organization in a variety of roles. He coached the team for 11 games in 1992.

"It is unimaginable to imagine the St. Louis Blues without Bobby Plager," the team said in a statement. "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."

From Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Plager played 29 games in parts of three seasons with the Rangers before coming over to the Blues. He had 20 goals, 126 assists and 802 penalty minutes in 644 regular-season NHL games and added two goals, 17 assists and 195 penalty minutes in 74 playoff games. The Blues retired his No. 5 jersey in 2017, and it joined brother Barclay's No. 8 in the rafters.

"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," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "In the lineup for the Blues' inaugural game on Oct. 11, 1967, he assisted on the first goal in franchise history and committed the Blues' first penalty that night -- thus commencing a 54-year association with the organization."

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