Bob Probert was before my hockey-watching time, but in no way does that mean I don't know anything about him. Being a hockey fan, you have to know the past as well as the present. You have to know the legends as well as the current stars. Bob Probert was a well-known star, who died before his time. It shocked the hockey world. News of his death made the "Where in the world will Ilya Kovalchuk sign?" waiting game seem unimportant.
Since I started watching hockey after he retired, I don't have many stories that involve Probert. None, actually. And the one I do have isn't even really about Probert nor is it even my story. I'll tell it anyway because it's a cool story and at the moment, any story is worth telling. You know, as long as it's tasteful.
Last summer, my friend/neighbor graduated from high school. He had a pretty kickass graduation party (moon slide. Enough said.). At said graduation party, I was sitting at a table with some friends of his dad's and let me tell you, pretty much everyone that family knows loves hockey. Somehow, the couple I was sitting with started reminiscing about the early 1990s in hockey. I wish I remembered the woman's name (I know her husband's, but that doesn't help), but I'm stealing her story anyway to post it here.
She was a huge Bob Probert fan. One afternoon in late 1991, there was an autograph session with a bunch of Red Wings players. She stood in line for hours just to get her jersey signed. Yet by the time she finally made it up to get her jersey signed, Probert had left.
And in her words, "So I had to have this nobody player sign my Probert jersey instead of him. It was this nobody defenseman named Nicklas Lidstrom."
I wish I could claim that story as my own because it's pretty awesome. I was glad I could hear it.
Farewell, Probie. Your legend will live on. Hockeytown (and Chicago) (and hell, the rest of the NHL) will never forget you. Rest in peace.