CKLW says former Red Wing Bob Probert has died at 45 years of age.He was rushed to hospital after collapsing while on a boat on Lake St. Clair. Emergency crews were seen administering CPR upon the boat's arrival on shore. I am sure more details will come out in the next few hours and days.
I was a huge fan of Bob Probert back in his "Bruise Brothers" days with Joey Kocur in Detroit in the 1980s. For me he was the most intimidating player I ever saw. I have never been a huge fan of fighting, but I was fascinated by the fearsome presence Probert commanded. He was a villain, but one I really enjoyed.
As a fighter he has to be one of the top 5 of all time. He was honest about it though. He wouldn't jump you from behind, he would square up with you first then beat the crap out of you. And the thing I always admired about him most - as an older player he probably should not have had to drop the gloves as much as he did. But he always obliged the younger fighters, and gave them a chance to make a name for themselves. It may sound odd, but it was a great show of respect by Probert. Not every fighter does that.
Of course YouTube fight clips will be overloaded now. There were many great Probert bouts (click on opposing name for YouTube link) - Tie Domi, Marty McSorley, Dave Semenko, Wendel Clark, Dave Brown. My personal favorite would have to have been the showdown with Craig Coxe, and the rematch fight with Troy Crowder.
Probert was more than a goon. He could play. Mind you playing along Steve Yzerman in the late 1980s would inflate anyone's offensive numbers, but don't think for a minute that Probert's presence did not help out a young Stevie Y a whole lot.
Any mention of Probert's life would be incomplete without mentioning his demons - the drugs and the alcohol and the spinoffs from that. But full credit to Probert. He seemed to have really cleaned up his life in recent years. He should be admired for doing so.
Bob Probert gone at 45. Wow. That one word really about sums it up, doesn't it.
UPDATE: Here is a link to a Steve Simmons article that I consider the best piece on Probert's life that I read all day. Here's just a taste:
He was a curiosity, a specimen, a spectacle in good times and bad.Just a great line. The article has also great quotes from Steve Yzerman, Jim Devellano Colin Campbell and Marty McSorley.
UPDATES 2: George Malik has done an awesome job compiling all the major media stories concerning Bob Probert.