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Summer with Stanley

Plager takes Stanley Cup to brother's grave, grandson's practice

Original Blues player enjoys long-awaited day with trophy

by Louie Korac / Independent Correspondent

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. -- When Bob Plager got word of when his day with the Stanley Cup would be, there was no doubt where it was going.

An original member of the St. Louis Blues, Plager would take the trophy to the burial place of his older brother, Barclay, who also played for the expansion Blues.

And that's what the 76-year-old did Sunday.

"I knew it was going to the grave, that was going to be the first thing for my brother Barclay," Plager said.

Plager and St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong poured a drink from the Cup to toast Barclay, whose wife, Helen, was on hand for the visit at Bellerive Gardens Cemetery in Creve Coeur.

Tweet from @StLouisBlues: GM Doug Armstrong and Bob Plager pour the first drink for Barclay. #stlblues #StanleyCup

Barclay Plager was 46 when he died Feb. 6, 1988, from a brain hemorrhage. He played all 614 games of his NHL career for the Blues.

Plager's day with the Cup included visits to daughter Melissa Briggs' home and the new Maryville University Hockey Center, where he surprised grandson Jacob Briggs' team, the Chesterfield Falcons, and got an assist from Blues defenseman Colton Parayko hoisting the trophy.

Tweet from @lkorac10: Bob Plager said with his bad shoulder, he can't be lifting the Cup over his head. So Colton Parayko was on hand to help with his grandson Jacob and Jacob's Chesterfield Falcons teammates. #stlblues

The Blues won the Cup for the first time in their 51-season history when they defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Final on June 12.

"I knew I was going to get my grandson involved with his kids and the kids there, the hockey team, and we had Jimmy Roberts and Noel Picard, Dan Kelly and their family, and the Gassoffs, I wanted them over at the house," said Plager, an ambassador for the Blues who has been with the franchise since it entered the NHL. "So really, that's what I wanted, and that's what I got. We got to celebrate with Barclay and Noel and their families.

"It meant a lot because our first years, those were the guys that were there. We battled. We were an expansion team. We believed we could have won. There was no way we were going to win. The way it worked out and how special it was in Boston the last time we were there (in 1970), and I was on the ice in Boston, and I had to watch them hoist the Stanley Cup. This year, it was payback, and it was great. They got to watch us, and I got to lift the Cup on the ice in Boston."

Tweet from @StLouisBlues: If there's anything more St. Louis than @RealTedDrewes from the #StanleyCup, we don't know what it is. #stlblues

Plager played 645 games in 11 seasons for the Blues from 1967-78. That included being swept 4-0 in the Stanley Cup Final each of their first three seasons (also Montreal Canadiens in 1968 and 1969).

Melissa Briggs said it was a pleasure to see her father soak in the experience of St. Louis' first Stanley Cup championship.

"I honestly don't have words for it," she said. "I'm just so thankful that he's alive to do this, to see this and to celebrate this. And think about it, he's obviously been there for 52 years and he's the only person throughout the entire organization that's talked to every single player. He's the linchpin from Day One to all the way now. I'm just so grateful he's here to see this moment."

Plager said winning the Cup has been very enjoyable for those who were involved with the original Blues.

"When it happened, you looked up (to the skies) at Barclay," Plager said. "It was Barclay, Noel, Jimmy Roberts, Dan Kelly, who announced our games, the Solomons owned us. Those are the people that got the chance like me but didn't win it. It's just been great. I didn't invite everybody, but I invited the kids, their parents tonight. You look around, you see the smiles, how everybody is taking this all in. It's been great.

"For me, this is very special, but sitting here and looking at the kids and thinking, 'This is the toughest trophy to win.' You talk to some of the players and tell them to enjoy it now because you never know when this will happen again."

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