Bob Probert: Death of a Drunk, Cocaine Offender and Hockey Goon



I sincerely hope, as the Bob Probert death stories start to pile in, no one gives his death the ESPN Chris Henry treatment. I really don’t need to hear that Probie was “turning his life around” during his final days.  PLEASE, just don’t do that. As of right now, we know very little about the details of his death- they are sketchy at best. So we don’t need journalists making unclear assumptions to fit a possibly fictional narrative.

We may not know much about his death, but we do know a whole lot about his life. He often broke the rules both on the ice, and away from it. Probert spent seven of his 16 National Hockey League seasons as a member of the Blackhawks, registering 125 points (49G,76A) and 1210 penalty minutes in 461 regular-season tilts from  1995 to 2002.  He posted five points (2G,3A) and 64 penalty minutes in 18 postseason contests with Chicago.

By Paul M. Banks


Overall, Probert recorded 384 points (163G,221A) in 935 career regular-season games with the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings (1985-94).  His 3300 career penalty minutes rank sixth all-time in NHL history. He also tallied 48 points (16G,32A) along with 274 penalty minutes in 81 career Stanley Cup Playoff tilts. In short, Probert was a multi-talented player with numerous skills and abilities, but his legacy will always be that of an enforcer. He was truly one of hockey’s greatest tough guys, during some of the league’s most lawless seasons.

So those are the highlights of his on-ice rule breaking; here’s some his “non-conformity” away from the game:

June 4, 2004- arrested for allegedly parking his BMW sport utility vehicle on the wrong side of the street and entering into an altercation over drugs with bystanders. Several police officers intervened and had to subdue Probert with taser and stun guns. He was later acquitted on all charges.

July 1, 2005- arrested at his Windsor-area home for breach of peace, resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer. Probert’s attorney, Patrick Ducharme, advised the media, “I anticipate he will be pleading not guilty and going to trial.”

August 23, 2005- arrested again at a bar in Tecumseh, Ontario for violating two conditions of his probation that he not consume alcohol or be in an establishment that serves liquor. Released after paying a $200 fine. All charges stemming from the arrest on July 1 were eventually dropped.

So he beat the rap on both of those charges. However, he also has these two incidents on his permanent file on record.

July 15, 1994- suffered minor injuries when crashing his motorcycle into a car in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan. Police determined that his blood alcohol level was approximately triple the legal limit, and that there were also trace amounts of cocaine in his system. This is the end,” said Wings senior vice-president Jim Devellano. “my 12 years with the organization…we’ve never spent more time on one player and his problems than we have on Probert.”

1989- Arrested for cocaine possession while crossing the Detroit-Windsor border. Served three months in a federal prison in Minnesota, three more months in a halfway house, and was indefinitely suspended from the NHL. The NHL lifted the suspension at the conclusion of his prison term.

Still he was taken from us too soon. Even alcoholics and coke dealers deserve the right to live the average life span.

However, I DO NOT agree with the Blackhawks’ decision to honor him with Bob Probert Heritage Night on February 22, 2009 at the United Center last season. He even dropped the ceremonial puck prior to Game 3 of the 2009 Western Conference Final between Detroit and Chicago. It’s sad that he has now passed on, but I don’t think the story of his life and “honor” belong in the same sentence. But I guess for his legacy’s sake, for the good of his memory, and for the best interests of the wife and four children that Probert left behind, it’s a good thing the Hawks held the night while he was still alive.

Here’s the Hawks organizational statement, from Hawks President John McDonough:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Probert family during this difficult time,” said McDonough. “Bob will always be a member of the Blackhawks family and his memory will live on through our fans.”

According to USA Today, here are the details surrounding his death:

He was on a boat on Lake St. Clair at about 2:30 p.m. when he began experiencing chest pains, said Windsor Regional Hospital spokeswoman Gisele Sullens.

He collapsed on the boat and his father-in-law, Dan Parkinson, administered CPR, Sullens said. Windsor EMS transported him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru

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  1. Travis Henry is dead?!?!? Lol…

  2. paulmbanks says

    ahahhaha. no he’s the guy with like 13 children by 8 different mothers. he’s very much alive. I better fix that typo to CHRIS Henry. my bad!!! LOL

  3. Did they conduct a toxicology report?

  4. paulmbanks says

    You know that’s a very interesting question. This was pretty big news that 4th of July weekend, and then we heard nothing. literally NOTHING more about it…I’ll do some research

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