Detroit Red Wings: A film titled Tough Guy set to hit the big screen

1992-1993: Leftwinger Bob Probert of the Detroit Red Wings during a game versus the St. Louis Blues at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. Mandatory Credit: ALLSPORT USA /Allsport
1992-1993: Leftwinger Bob Probert of the Detroit Red Wings during a game versus the St. Louis Blues at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. Mandatory Credit: ALLSPORT USA /Allsport /

Tough Guy, the Bob Probert story is set to air in his hometown of Windsor, Ontario this week.  It is expected to take the viewer through the good, bad, and ugly times of former Detroit Red Wings enforcer without a filter.

In the eyes of Detroit Red Wings fans, Bob Probert was the enforcer, the protector of Steve Yzerman.  There was a whole other side of “Probie.”  A man addicted to drugs and alcohol.  I mean there was a time “Probie” could run for mayor in the city of Detroit and probably win in a landslide.

He was the definition of a power forward.  He was not only a scrapper, tough guy he could chip in with some timely scoring.  He was an all-star in 1987/88.  That year he scored 29 goals and totaled 62 points, oh, and he had 398 penalty minutes.  Maybe the most impressive stat was his plus 16 rating.  He wasn’t just a guy; he wore an “A” on his jersey for a reason.  He was apparently well respected in the locker room by his peers.

Not to bad for a guy many felt was just paid to protect the great Steve Yzerman.  I mean he did that job very well, but that wasn’t the only task. Over his 16-year NHL career, Probert scored north of 40 points on four different occasions.  Although it may not seem that impressive, it is a nice accomplishment with a man tagged as a fighter.  Not just any warrior the fiercest of the bunch, possibly the craziest of all-time in the history of the league.

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The movie is expected to depict everything; the drug busts, being addicted to cocaine the arrests, continued trouble with the law.  During the movie trailer, they show a clip of a news story explaining Probert being arrested for trying to cross the border from his hometown of Windsor, ON to Detroit in possession of cocaine.

The clip immediately goes to Steve Yzerman sitting in his stall in the Detroit Red Wings dressing room, clearly being notified of the news shaking his head and saying “oh no, not again” with disgust on his face.

I can’t wait to see the softer side of Bob, the family side.  I mean I expect to see so much of the ugly, it will be nice to see him with his wife and kids when he happened to be sober.  An addiction that ruled his life for many years, the rise and fall and struggles with sobriety is sure to be must see tv.  I can’t wait to see some of his former teammates and enemies talk about their perception of Probert.  I couldn’t imagine lining up against him on the nights he was skating around in a bad mood looking to bust someone up, perhaps even high or drunk.

Per Jeff Siedel of, a couple of fascinating stories prior to the movie release December 13th in Windsor, which is currently sold out.  I expect additional showings in the near future.

"This movie is gripping, emotional and remarkable for its bare-knuckle honesty.  Everything is exposed: the fights on the ice (he was penalized 3,300 minutes — fourth most in NHL history when he retired), the drugs (he was arrested in 1989 for cocaine possession while crossing the Detroit-Windsor border), the sex, the arrests, the motorcycle crashes and the constant struggle for sobriety. Probert, one of the first NHL players diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), died of heart failure in 2010 at the age of 45 while boating on Lake St. Clair.But there is something else, a tender humanity that filters through the film. There are clips from his famous fights on the ice — “Probie! Probie! Probie!” the crowd would chant — and then you see him changing a diaper: “The straps go in the back, right?” he says."

Needless to say, I cannot wait to see this film.  A guy, I included always admired on the ice for his style of play.  A guy who loved to bang the body when he wasn’t banging his fists off of anyone willing to exchange blows with him.

I always wonder how we would depict someone with the same off-ice issues but who didn’t fight like him.  Say a skilled player had the same personal problems, they would likely be shunned by us.

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We look at players like Probert, and McCarty (who idolized Probert) as heroes because of their style of play, both players had many of the same off-ice issues.  It shows people will always go to bat for someone who is willing to stand up for their teammates.