Probert was a fan favorite with both Detroit and Chicago. His style of play was a throwback to a previous era where players were considerably tougher than they are today.
Probert was not considered a goon because he would often display better than average offensive productivity. Fellow combatant Wendell Clark told the Canadian Press : "Bob was a guy that started as a strictly tough guy but made himself a player."
Detroit fans were always big supporters of Probert, even after it was disclosed that he had some early drug and alcohol problems. He was charged several times with driving under the influence while playing for Detroit. He also was caught trying to transport cocaine from Canada into the U.S. in 1989 and served a six-month federal prison sentence. Despite his off-ice problems, Probert was often the victor in on-ice battles with major league heavyweights such as Donald Brashear, Wendell Clark, Tie Domi and George Larocque, as well many other known NHL pugilists.
Probert was well-known for his fistic skills, but was also a opportunistic goal-scorer when the situation presented itself. He was not one to shy away from any battle and often kept opposing players honest and reluctant to display unnecessary roughness against his teammates.
"Probert played for the Red Wings in 1985-1994 and for the Blackhawks in 1995-2002,” said the Associated Press article.
Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch said in a statement: "Bob was always there for his teammates and was one of the toughest men to ever play in the NHL. He also was one of the kindest, most colorful, and beloved players Detroit has ever known."
The Windsor, Ontario native had 384 points (163 goals, 221 assists) in 935 career regular-season games with Detroit and Chicago. His 3,300 career penalty minutes rank sixth in NHL history.
Probert is the second former Red Wing to pass away unexpectedly. Retired defenseman Willie Huber died less than three weeks ago from similar complications.