I did not always grow up a Steve Yzerman fan. I remember in my younger days going to games at the Joe where Yzerman would net two goals, but if Bob Probert got into a fight, the place would reach a high-pitched tone. Probert exemplified all that was right (and wrong) with hockey and the fans from this area treated him like king. Now, just miles from the place where his father served the people of Windsor, and the building where he made a name for himself, Bob Probert will remain part of our local hockey history.
My parents had the tremendous honor of explaining to their oldest child why Probert had been suspended indefinitely by the NHL. It was an unfortunate time for all Red Wings fans, especially as the team huddled on the threshold of their ’90’s/’00’s dynasty. Probert made the franchise truly international, as well as being a real hometown franchise. We would see him when we went out to dinner and he just had a level of invincibility to him. It must have been with that same fervor that created standards to which none of us could comprehend.
My last remaining memory of Bob Probert happens to be seeing him wearing a Blackhawks jersey during the 2009 Western Conference final puck drop ceremony. There was something strangely distant from seeing a former hero of mine lack many of the same characteristics he had once had to become such a loving and enigmatic figure in the Detroit-Windsor area. I once had considered him to be my hero for what he did on the ice, and it’s a shame that, much like his performances in a Red Wings uniform, he was unable to embrace the role handed to him.