Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman on Bob Probert: "He was a kind-hearted guy"
Go on YouTube, search the name Bob Probert and sit back and enjoy the work of one of the NHL's most feared enforcers. The left wing, who played 16 years in the league, nine with the Red Wings and seven with the Blackhawks, died recently at age 45.
And while he was a brutal force on the ice, former teammate Steve Yzerman, now the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, said there was a side to Probert many who did not know him never saw.
"Fans know that he was this tough, rugged, brawling player, but off the ice he was a kind-hearted guy," said Yzerman, who attended Probert's funeral Friday in Windsor, Ontario. "He was nice to everybody. He was witty. He always cracked a joke to make people feel good."
In 935 NHL games, Probert had 163 goals and 384 points. But he also had 3,300 penalty minutes (fifth all time), including a career-high 398 for Detroit in 1987-88. That was a watershed season for the tough guy, who also had 29 goals and 62 points in 74 games. In 16 playoff games that season, Probert had eight goals, 21 points and 51 penalty minutes.
Had he not had such problems with alcoholism, Red Wings executive Jim Devellano has been quoted as saying Probert could have been a Hall of Famer in the mold of the Islanders' Clark Gillies. And Probert's former teammates and then-coach Jacques Demers said players seemed to grow a little taller on the ice when Probert was with them.
"I don't know that we grew," Yzerman said, "but he certainly kept everybody honest. Everybody, for the most part, just stuck to hockey when Proby was on the ice."