Bob Probert died yesterday. Not a big story around here. Back in Michigan and Chicago, well, huge.
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Bob Probert was a feared hockey player for the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. He was a rare combination of goon and goal-scorer. When he and Stevie Yzerman helped the Wings back to hockey respectability in the late 80s, he was all the rage.
His demons halted his career for a while but he always seemed to come back. In the early 1990s, he came up to Alpena, Mich., where I was the sports editor for the local paper, and played in charity golf and softball events.
I remember being completely intimidated by him, but all he did was talk with fans, sip water while his teammates hit the beer, scratch his sunburned nose and generally charm everybody in town.
Somewhere I have a newspaper that he signed. Can't believe that's creeping up on 20 years ago.
There was no middle ground with Probie. And it's a sad day for hockey fans, in general.