Book Review: Tough Guy – Bob Probert

Bob Probert was cuffed with his hands behind his back. He was facedown on the ground with a cop’s knee on his neck. Probert told him he was probably the fat kid in school that was always picked on, and that’s why he became a cop. Probert’s face was a mess after that comment. The worst part was that the cop took his $600 sunglasses.

Tough Guy is the no nonsense expose of Bob Probert’s life written with Kirstie McLellan Day. Its part Animal House and part Slap Shot. This is a story of a time in sports that is so different from today that it’s hard to believe that it was only a couple decades ago. Probert was such a hard party machine that he would stay out all night, till 7 A.M. dress for practice and play that night. He was a smoker. He microwaved his urine to fool the testers into thinking it had just come out of his body and yet he occupies some interesting spots in the record books.

The book opens with an emotional narrative of that last day of Probert’s life. Kirstie McLellan Day stirs the emotional soup by quickly shifting the book to Probert’s voice and taking us back in time to a fight with Tie Domi. Probert tells us of Domi’s first shot at fighting him, filling the page with four letter words, you are suddenly jolted out of the opening passage of the book. You know you are in Probie’s world now.

Probert’s ability to party was stunning; it’s amazing he had time for hockey. An example of Probert’s thought process: when meeting the press with fellow draft pick, Steve Yzerman, Probert assessed him as “fairly serious…and not someone you would expect to be sitting next to in a jail cell, laughing off a hangover.”

But he did have time for hockey. In the 1988 Playoffs he broke Gordie Howe’s playoff record of 21 points. Probert held that record until 1995. Probie’s chapter about his friendship with Sheldon Kennedy is particularly heart warming. It was his first really successful attempt at staying clean after a major scrape with the law.

Probert said he was most happy when he was playing and fighting.

The thing you will see over and over with fighters is pride. That blue collar ethic applied to their job as the enforcer, the man that provides protection. Probert was no different when it came to protecting his guys off the ice. In an incident at a bar, Probert engaged in a street fight to defend a teammate. After the fight he went back in the bar to have a couple more beers before going into the emergency room to get stitched up.

Bob Probert was clearly a troubled man. He struggled with priorities and even as he looked back on his life he alternately took responsibility and dodged it throughout the book. Two things kept Probert on the straight and narrow, the game and his family. And he did manage to keep clean, now and then. It’s a crazy ride through the life of a hard partying and hard hitting hockey player.

hits counter
Share this nice post:

Filed Under: Chicago BlackhawksDetroit Red WingsFeaturedNHL

Tags:

About the Author: I'm an irascible rec-hockey player, your typical ‘lunch pail’ player. A Colorado native, I was raised on Broncos football, with occasional minor league and Colorado (hockey) Rockies games thrown in. With the arrival of the Colorado Avalanche and my crazy idea to learn to ice skate (and eventually play hockey) at the age of 33, I fell in love with hockey, finally. You can find me here: Real Denver Sports and here: Twitter

RSSComments (10)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Red Wings News Feed, J Scott Moore. J Scott Moore said: Book Review: Tough Guy – Bob Probert now on Hockey Independent http://t.co/cuVbAAx [...]

  2. Hey, I just read your review and want to thank you. You nailed it. It was such a privilege to work with Probie. He was awesome.

  3. Rhonda says:

    I just bought the book yesterday and sat down to read it. Well, I did’nt put it down!!! Yep, read the whole thing in a matter of hours. I met Bob a couple of times and was really impressed with what a truly nice person he was. And after I read about his antics in his book, his wife is an absolute saint!! Anyway, a fabulous book!! It seemed like you were sitting right there listening to Bob tell his story. I HIGHLY recommend it weather you are a fan of Bob’s or not. The beginning is totally heart wrenching. But what a wonderful love story between Bob and the one woman who truly loved him. He was a very lucky man!!

  4. Maggie M says:

    Thank you so much for writing this book about Bob’s Life…I was lucky enough to have met him and asked Bob for his autograph..Such a great Guy, I am reading the book.the beginning of the book had me crying cause I thought so much of him as a person and a player .He was my Favorite.I know he had some downfalls but we are all humans and can make them mistakes and learn from them..
    He will be truly missed!

  5. Matt Patterson says:

    Probie was the ultimate warrior, there will never be another enforcer like Bob Probert. Any new guns coming into the league had to test their tougness by fighting Probie, usually meaning a rearrangement of their noses! What I find truly amazing about Probie was his willingness to let people in, he was friendly and cared about those around him. I was at an autograph signing of his in Detroit and time was running out because Probie had a game that night. There were probably 200 people still in line, waiting patiently to get his autograph. The promoter announced that in 5 minutes Probie had to leave, Probie stood right up and yelled out,” I am not going anywhere until all your items are signed.” He smiled and went back to what he was doing. Everyone has stories of Bob and how he lived his title of tough guy, both on and off the ice (ask Dexter Manley), but one thing for certain, Stevie Yzerman would not have had the career he had without # 24 patrolling the ice. When I think of how great Stevie was, I think of Probie in the same sentance, side by side, a warrior and a Hall-of-famer. That’s how it should be in hockey.

  6. [...] Probert’s post-mortem autobiography, “Tough Guy,” gleefully offers sum of his 3,300 career chastisement mins — fifth in N.H.L. story — and recounts so many brawls with enforcers like Tie Domi and Marty McSorley that it requires 11 pages to list them all. He scored 163 goals in his career from 1985 by 2002, for a Detroit Red Wings and a Chicago Blackhawks, though was so famous for his fighting that a 2007 Hockey News check rated him a biggest enforcer in hockey history. [...]

  7. [...] Probert’s post-mortem autobiography, “Tough Guy,” gleefully offers sum of his 3,300 career chastisement mins — fifth in N.H.L. story — and recounts so many brawls with enforcers like Tie Domi and Marty McSorley that it requires 11 pages to list them all. He scored 163 goals in his career from 1985 by 2002, for a Detroit Red Wings and a Chicago Blackhawks, though was so famous for his fighting that a 2007 Hockey News check rated him a biggest enforcer in hockey history. [...]

  8. [...] Probert’s posthumous autobiography, “Tough Guy,” gleefully offers details of his 3,300 career penalty minutes — fifth in N.H.L. history — and recounts so many brawls with enforcers like Tie Domi and Marty McSorley that it requires 11 pages to list them all. He scored 163 goals in his career from 1985 through 2002, for the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks, but was so known for his fighting that a 2007 Hockey News poll rated him the greatest enforcer in hockey history. [...]