To my recollection, I have never met or even shaken hands with Bobby Plager in my lifetime. I might be able to count on one hand the number of times I have ever been in closed company with him. Pretty much everything I know about him—as far as hockey is concerned—is based on stories written some time ago, stories relayed to me by Mom and Dad, numbers found on the internet, blog posts written about the man and stories told by friends and long-time Blues fans.
I don’t need to have met him to know what kind of impact Bobby Plager has had on the St. Louis Blues. We know the impact, and that’s why a night like tonight is long overdue. There are ZERO Blues who will ever measure as much to a franchise’s history as one Robert Bryant Plager.
Bobby is one of only a handful of Original Blues still around today. He retired from playing the game before I was born. Name a role the Blues have needed in hockey operations, and I would be willing to bet Bobby had a hand in that role at some point in the team’s history.
Player. Coach. Scout. Team management. Hell, you could probably ask him to sell popcorn and he might consider it, if it helped the team. And always, always loyal to the franchise, no matter where he’s been.
I barely can spend a couple years working for a company before I figure out that I’m bored with the place, and that happens even if I like the job. By-and-large, Bobby has spent FIFTY YEARS with the Blues. That’s fucking unreal, even by old standards.
I say this with all due respect to Barret Jackman, who might have been my favorite Blues player in the modern era, but the number 5 should have been retired long before Jackman ever became a Blue. I realize Bobby was the primary reason Barret even took the number 5, but it should have never gotten to that point.
As the number 7 has not been officially retired by the team (although no Blues have worn the number since Keith Tkachuk retired in 2011), it is rather fitting that Bobby will have his number hoisted right next to the number 8 of his brother Barclay. Some say Barclay was better. Some say Bobby was better. None of that matters anymore; they were a dynamic duo, and everything Bobby has done since Barclay’s passing has been a terrific tribute to his big brother, even if it was never intended that way.
And considering their nature, it’s not a shock that their most famed incident is one where they got into it with fans in the stands:
Prepare for a long ceremony tonight. And don’t dare bitch about it. Bobby Plager demands and has earned your respect. And we’re going to give all the respect we can give tonight.
To Mr. Blue.