On Monday, Hockeytown lost a legend.
No, his number won’t join Stevie and Gordie in the rafters. But anyone who was a Wings fan in mid-80’s to mid-90’s will remember — fondly — what Bob Probert brought to the game. He was the ultimate teammate, a hell of a brawler, and an oddly efficient goal-scorer.
There was a time, when I was in fifth grade, that Bob Probert and Tie Domi fought. I know, that doesn’t sound that odd because they went thirteen times over their illustrious, blood-shedding careers. But this time, PASS Sports (remember PASS Sports?) had a punch-tracker ready to go before the fists began flying. A mini-scoreboard on the lower portion of the television screen, allowing all of us at home to experience every punch as Probie did. And, for whatever reason, we all felt like we battled with him.
But he was more than just an enforcer, or a tough guy. I’m not sure there’s been a more blue-collar guy in a blue-collar town like Detroit. He wasn’t untouchable in the way that Steve Yzerman was but he was special. The fans had a connection with the man, not just the player. He had more than his fair share of off-ice issues (which, strangely, I think made him more endearing to the fans — as opposed to a villain in our eyes), but we’re not here to talk about those. There will be plenty said along those lines.
Instead, we celebrate Mr. Probert’s life and career. He scored 162 goals in the NHL — ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY TWO — and spent 3300 minutes in the box, which is equivalent to 2.29 DAYS. What’s more, nearly every single one of those minutes was served on behalf of a teammate and friend. Players have come and gone — some more popular and infamous than others — but few have come close to having the kind of worship that Bob Probert did.
Most importantly, he left behind four children and a legacy.
I’m looking forward to the first game at the Joe next season. Anyone who knows anything about modern Red Wings history will begin the Probie chant right around “gave proof through the night” — and it will thoroughly drown out “the home of the brave.”
We lost a good one. He was a hard-nosed, bruised-knuckled, soft-handed, Bruise Brother son of a bitch that proudly wore the Winged Wheel for nine years — and the Blackhawk logo for seven. By all accounts, he was a hell of a man, a funny locker room presence, and a kind-hearted soul.
From The Production Line to the Probert family and our brothers and sisters in Hockeytown, our thoughts are with you.