The difference in games played for Bob Probert between the Detroit Red Wings (474) and the Chicago Blackhawks (461) is negligible, but there's no question he cemented his reputation as the most feared fighter in the NHL while wearing the Winged Wheel.
Which is why his public support of the Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals -- dropping the ceremonial first puck, telling Jonathan Toews(notes) "good luck, kick their asses" -- isn't exactly endearing him to the Red Wings faithful:
Now, in fairness, Probert didn't use kid gloves on the Red Wings after joining their division rivals; fighting such Detroit names as Darren McCarty and Brendan Shanahan(notes), whom he fought after taking a swing at Chris Osgood(notes). The Blackhawks have also embraced Probert as an alumnus, including him in their "Heritage Night" celebrations this season.If nothing else, maybe Probert should have borrowed Mama Chelios's Frankenjersey, because coming out to the ice clearly Committed to the Indian has cheesed off some Red Wings supporters.
From Terry Foster of the Detroit News (via Snapshots): "He played half of his career here, where the Wings helped him battle chemical dependency. People here still love the Windsor-born enforcer. There just might not be as many after that appearance."
Michael Mrock of the Bleacher Report: "Chelios does wear Probert's old No. 24 on the Wings. However, he was only on the ice for about four minutes total, so the 'Hawks couldn't exploit his lack of speed."
Steve Schrader of the Free Press: "Former Wing/Blackhawk enforcer Bob Probert stuck to his guns Sunday after dropping the ceremonial first puck and told the Chicago Sun-Times he was rooting for the home team. So in his honor, Chicago went out and spent 56 minutes in the penalty box. But no hard feelings. Whaddya say we let Probie back on the Wings' bandwagon next round?"
And that's the question: Is Probert's decision to back what is apparently the wrong horse in this series forgivable for Red Wings fans, or is he now "Former Blackhawks goon Bob Probert" in the press clippings?
Also, in a more general query: Have you ever had to stomach one of your favorite players in any sport "sleeping with the enemy," before or post-retirement? This coming from someone who still can't believe Gary Carter's in the Baseball Hall of Fame as an Expo.
- Bob Probert