|6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
225 lb (102 kg)
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Adirondack Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings
|Born||June 5, 1965,|
Windsor, ON, CAN
|Died||July 5 2010 (aged 45),|
Windsor, ON, CAN
|NHL Draft||46th overall, 1983|
Detroit Red Wings
|Pro Career||1982 – 2002|
Robert Probert (born June 5, 1965 in Windsor, Ontario) is a retired Canadian professional forward. Probert played for the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. While a successful player by some measures, including being voted to the 87–88 Campbell Conference all-star team, Probert is best known for his activities as a fighter and enforcer. Probert was also known for his off-ice antics and legal problems, as well as being one half of the "Bruise Brothers" with then-Red Wing teammate Joe Kocur, during the late 80s and early 90s. 'Probie' is widely considered the greatest hockey fighter in the history of the game.
Playing career[edit | edit source]
Prior to playing with the Detroit Red Wings, Probert was with the Brantford Alexanders of the Ontario Hockey League. After being drafted, he spent one more season with the Alexanders before spending his 1984–85 season with both the Hamilton Steelhawks and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL
Detroit Red Wings (1985 — 1994)[edit | edit source]
During the 1985–86 and 1986–87 seasons, Probert spent the majority of his time with the Red Wings while occasionally playing for their minor league affiliate at the time, the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League. While he wasn't the most prolific pointmaker in the 1985–86 season, he finished third on the team in penalty minutes behind Kocur and Randy Ladouceur, both of whom played more regular season games than Probert. In the 1986–87 season, Probert accumulated only 24 points, but amassed 221 penalty minutes.
The 1987–88 season saw Probert develop his fighting abilities and reputation as a tough guy with 398 penalty minutes. He also tied for third on the team in points with 62 (Petr Klima also had 62 points). That season, Probert played in his first (and only) NHL All-Star Game, and he contributed the most points during the Red Wings' playoff run, in which Yzerman missed all but the final three games with a knee injury.
Probert's career hit a snag in 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.
When Probert returned to the Red Wings, he was temporarily one of the Alternate Captains of the team along with Gerard Gallant. While his penalty minutes remained high, he also averaged 40 points a season. During his last season with the Red Wings, he accumulated 17 points for the team.
At this time, Probert was once again in trouble with the law. On July 15, 1994, Probert suffered minor injuries when he crashed his motorcycle into a car while driving in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan. Police determined that his blood alcohol level was approximately triple the legal limit, and that there were also trace amounts of cocaine in his system. At the time of the accident, Probert had been ruled an unrestricted free agent. On July 19, the Red Wings announced that they would not offer a contract to Probert. "This is the end," said senior vice-president Jim Devellano. "In my 12 years with the organization ... we've never spent more time on one player and his problems than we have on Probert."
Chicago Blackhawks (1994 – 2002)[edit | edit source]
Probert's first season with the Blackhawks was the last in which he accumulated over 40 points in a season. From then on, his points and penalty minutes gradually decreased. While he never returned to the levels of point production he achieved with the Red Wings, he remained a physical force on the ice and continued many long-term rivalries with other enforcers.
Probert also sustained various injuries during his time with the Blackhawks, most notably a torn rotator cuff injury which caused him to miss most of the 1997–98 season. One of the more noteworthy occurrences of his career with Chicago is that he scored the final NHL goal at the historic Maple Leaf Gardens on February 13, 1999.
Fighting[edit | edit source]
Probert will always be remembered as the NHL heavyweight champion, in 16 NHL seasons he fought 285 NHL fights and all coaches and enforcers considered him the toughest and most feared fighter in the NHL. He saw it as his job to protect his teammates, especially Detroit captain Steve Yzerman. In a recent news story, he recalled a time that he sucker-punched enforcer Kevin Maguire of the Buffalo Sabres after Maguire pummelled Yzerman.
Some fights in Probert's career:
- Two long fights with Craig Coxe of the Vancouver Canucks in the mid-1980s.
- A career-spanning series of battles with Tie Domi of the New York Rangers, Winnipeg Jets, and Toronto Maple Leafs. Also Probert had a series of about 13 fights with enforcer Stu Grimson.
- A memorable fight on December 17, 1993 with former teammate Joe Kocur of the Rangers, during a brawl involving several players from both teams. Probert and Kocur had grabbed the nearest opposing player without realizing who it was, and continued trading punches even after they identified each other. Later on in Probert's Career, he would face Kocur a couple more times when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks.
- A fight on February 4, 1994, against Marty McSorley, then of the Pittsburgh Penguins, lasting nearly 100 seconds.
- A fight on December 11, 1993 in the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim's first ever game at the Joe Louis Arena against the Wings, Probert and Stu Grimson fought 6 seconds into the game. This is notable as many children were in attendance due to the popularity of the Mighty Ducks franchise thanks to the Mighty Ducks movie series.
In his career, Probert took part in many other classic hockey fights against noted enforcers such as Todd Ewen, Troy Crowder, Tony Twist, Donald Brashear, Stu "The Grim Reaper" Grimson, Bob McGill, Dave Semenko, and "Big" Jay Caufield.
Retirement[edit | edit source]
After the 2001–02 season, Probert was placed on waivers by the Blackhawks. Because he was not picked up by another team, he was advised that his role with the Blackhawks would be limited, or even relegated to playing in the minor leagues again. On November 16, 2002, Probert opted to "unofficially" retire so that he could join the Blackhawk's radio broadcasting team. He had finished fourth on the NHL's all-time list with 3,300 penalty minutes.
His stint with the Blackhawks radio team did not last long. In February 2003, it was reported that Probert went back to drug rehabilitation. During the 2002–03 offseason, Probert formally announced his retirement.
Post-retirement[edit | edit source]
Probert continues to make appearances in the media for various activities.
[edit | edit source]
Probert regularly appears in charity games (he estimates at least 20 this year), speaks at conventions, and conducts youth clinics. His activities as a Red Wings alumnus are somewhat limited by the fact that, due to his criminal background, he requires an immigration waiver each time he wants to cross the border.
On January 2, 2007, Probert appeared along with many other former Red Wings teammates to honor the retiring of Steve Yzerman's number 19 at Joe Louis Arena. He wore his number 24 Red Wings sweater, and helped former teammate Vladimir Konstantinov onto the ice for the ceremony. The Detroit crowd gave him a very warm welcome, which he later said he appreciated. He stayed on to watch the game with Joe Kocur behind the penalty box.
This was noted as a possible reconciliation with the Red Wings Organization. Apparently it worked, as Probert became a late addition to a January 27, 2007 Red Wings Alumni game against the Boston Bruins Alumni at Joe Louis Arena. He scored a goal and two assists, though the Red Wings alumni lost the game 8-6.
Probert recently worked on the Mike Myers film The Love Guru, making a cameo as a hockey player. He has commented on the irony of being given jersey number 28 to wear in the film — the same number worn by longtime rival Tie Domi.
Probert recently discussed some of his recent activities and his career in an interview with HockeyBarn.com at the Baycrest Invitational. (http://www.hockeybarn.com/videos/view.htm?video=238&sort=date_down)
Legal problems[edit | edit source]
In 2004, Probert was arrested for allegedly parking his BMW SUV on the wrong side of the street and entering into an altercation over drugs with bystanders. Several police officers intervened and had to subdue Probert with taser and stun guns. He was later acquitted on all charges related to this incident.
On July 1 , 2005, Probert was arrested at his Windsor-area home for breach of peace, resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer. Probert's attorney, Patrick Ducharme, advised the media, "I anticipate he will be pleading not guilty and going to trial." Probert was arrested again on August 23, 2005, at a bar in Tecumseh, Ontario for violating two conditions of his probation that he not consume alcohol or be in an establishment that serves liquor. He was released after paying a $200 fine. All charges stemming from the arrest on July 1 were eventually dropped.
Death[edit | edit source]
On July 5, 2010, Probert was boating on Lake Saint Clair, Ontario with his wife, children, father-in-law, and mother-in-law when he developed what was described as "severe chest pain" and collapsed at approximately 2:00 pm local time. His father-in-law, Dan Parkinson, a Cornwall, Ontario police chief, attempted CPR to save his life. He was rushed to Windsor Regional Hospital with no vital signs. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead later that afternoon.
Career statistics[edit | edit source]
|1984–85||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||OHL||44||20||52||72||172||15||6||11||17||60|
|1985–86||Adirondack Red Wings||AHL||32||12||15||27||152||10||2||3||5||68|
|1985–86||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||44||8||13||21||186||-||-||-||-||-|
|1986–87||Adirondack Red Wings||AHL||7||1||4||5||15||-||-||-||-||-|
|1986–87||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||63||13||11||24||221||16||3||4||7||63|
|1987–88||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||74||29||33||62||398||16||8||13||21||51|
|1988–89||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||25||4||2||6||106||-||-||-||-||-|
|1989–90||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||4||3||0||3||29||-||-||-||-||-|
|1990–91||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||55||16||23||39||315||6||1||2||3||50|
|1991–92||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||63||20||24||44||276||11||1||6||7||28|
|1992–93||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||80||14||29||43||292||7||0||3||3||10|
|1993–94||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||66||7||10||17||275||7||1||1||2||8|
Records[edit | edit source]
- Detroit Red Wings franchise record for career penalty minutes (2,090)
- Detroit Red Wings franchise record for penalty minutes in a season (398 in 1987–88)
Other references[edit | edit source]
- Bob Probert. The Internet Hockey Database. Retrieved on 2007-01-28. - Source for player statistics
Bob Probert / Michigan In Play! magazine Michigan In Play! magazine
[edit | edit source]
- hockeyfights.com - Bob Probert
- The Bob Probert Experience
- Web Site offering downloads of many Probert fights described above
- Bob Probert's biography at Legends of Hockey
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