It's a sad day. One of the icons of my youth -- for better or for worse -- is dead. Former Red Wings tough guy Bob Probert is gone at 45.
Three things I will always remember about Probie:
- Despite being known as only a goon, he was one of the greatest mix-it-up-in-front-of-the-net players of all time. Hunkering down in the middle of the ice, while playing on a line with Steve Yzerman and Gerard Gallant (a former Komets assistant coach), Probert netted 29 goals in the 1987-88 season and had 398 (not a typo) penalty minutes.
- Of course, getting caught trying to smuggle cocaine across the border in his underwear quite the laugher when I was 13.
- But the biggest thing I remember was the showdown with Troy Crowder. To put this into perspective, at the time, Probert was such a revered fighter people in Detroit actually joked about him being able to take an in-his-prime Mike Tyson. That's what made it so appalling when a youngster named Troy Crowder bloodied him in the opening week of the season, though Probert had slipped. It was several months before the rematch, and I remember the build up to it in the newspapers was unbelievable. At the game, it was a crowd unlike one I'd ever seen before or since at Joe Louis Arena -- in other words, everyone seemed inebriated. I remember the opening faceoff and could read Probert's lips. "Want to get it over with?" he said. They dropped the gloves and this fight ensued. And they fought another time that game. Amazing. Does anyone not think hockey was cooler in the era of, say, 1986-1993?
And it seems they are befuddled by what's going on, all over the leagues.
Finally, Tuesday's edition of "We've got Game," co-hosted by Justin Cohn and Ben Smith will air live 5 to 6 p.m. Click here for the link. If you are unable to listen live, catch the replay whenever is convenient. I'm trying to get Colin Chaulk to come on, and we'll have a broad range of topics of sports and pop culture.