Probert...More Than a Fighter

This is Bob Probert. Most know him as one of the heavyweight greats. His bouts with the likes of Tie Domi, Stu Grimson, Joey Kocur, Marty McSorley and others are of legend in the NHL. Probert truly was a feared tough guy and known league wide for it.

Probert was drafted as the 4th pick in the third round (46th overall) in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, in which the Red Wings also selected his "Bruise Brother" Joey Kocur. He spent his career as a penalty minute producing machine until 1989 when he was arrested for cocaine possession while crossing the Detroit-Windsor border. He served three months in a federal prison in Minnesota, three more months in a halfway house, and was indefinitely suspended from the NHL. The NHL lifted the suspension at the conclusion of his prison term.

The time didn't seem to slow Probert down too much, coming back as an Alternate Captain with Detroit and averaging 40 points a season. He continued as a strong roster player for the Red Wings until 1994 when Probert wasn't renewed in Detroit after a motorcycle accident that again got him in a bit of legal trouble.

While Probert had his ups and downs, many don't know how good of a hockey player Probert was. Younger fans now know him as one of the true heavyweights back in the day. Heavyweights in that regard did have decent NHL careers. But Probert was unlike the Derek Boogaards of todays NHL because Probert was a skilled NHL'er who produced often as many points and he did penalties.

Did you know that Probert had 5 NHL seasons where he was close to 40 points or more? Can you remember the last true heavyweight to do that? Did you know that in 87/88 Probert had 62 points in the regular season and 21 points in 16 games during the playoffs? He scored more than 20 goals twice in his career and in one season came awfully close with 19.

Except being voted to the 87–88 Campbell Conference all-star team, Probert would make you pay on the ice in a bunch of ways and he rarely got enough credit for it.


Today, AM 800 CKLW reported that emergency crews met a boat with other passengers in Lakeshore, Ont., just east of Windsor. On that boat was the 45-year-old Probert who had collapsed and at the time had no vital signs. They performed CPR on the former Red Wings and Blackhawks’ forward and transported him to Windsor Regional Hospital, but he could not be revived. Probert was later pronounced dead.

Probert, who was married with twin boys, had a great NHL career. In 16 seasons in NHL Probert had amassed 384 points and 3,300 penalty minutes. He was feared, liked, respected and popular around the league. Probert had his troubles, but had cleaned up his life to a large degree. He made a lot of post career appearances including charity work and a recent visit with the Canadian troops in Afghanistan as part of an NHL alumni tour.

Probert will always be remembered as one of the true heavyweights. I'll remember him as a guy who had his ups and downs, but seemed much nicer in public appearances than his on-ice persona ever made you think he'd be.

This is a sad day for the NHL and for Bob Probert's family and friends. Our prayers go out to everyone who knew him and for the fans who loved to watch Probert do his thing.


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