The NHL has been rocked by the death of legendary St Louis Blues defenseman Bob Plager, who was killed in a car crash on Wednesday.
He was 78.
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Police in St Louis said Plager was alone in his vehicle when it collided with another vehicle carrying two women on Interstate 64 about 1:30 pm.
One of the women sustained minor injuries.
No other details were released.
The St Louis Post-Dispatch published photos of the aftermath of Plager's crash.
Plager was an inaugural player for the Blues, moving over from the New York Rangers when the NHL expanded in 1967-68.
He played 11 seasons for St Louis, at one stage teaming up tp play with brothers Barclay and Bill.
He later worked for the organisation in a variety of roles and 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 organisation was profound and everlasting, and his loss to our city will be deep.”
NHL in mourning over Bob Plager's death
From Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Plager played 29 games in parts of three seasons with the Rangers before moving 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 organisation.”
Tributes have been pouring in on social media.
"The NHL Alumni is devastated to learn of the passing of St Louis Blues icon Bob Plager," the organisation tweeted.
"From hip checks to practical jokes, Bob has been a fan favourite for over 50 years & his legacy will be imprinted on our game forever.
“Number 5 in your program, Number 1 in your hearts.”
Reporter Corey Miller wrote: "Absolutely gutting.
"This is probably my favourite picture I’ve ever taken. Bob Plager wanted that Stanley Cup so bad.
"Just about the kindest guy you could ever meet who genuinely cared about everyone. And he loved the Blues more than anyone."
While former opponent Don Cherry said Plager was the "toughest guy I've ever played against."
with Associated Press
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