1990-91 Upper Deck card #448 – Bob Probert
Bob Probet died suddenly and unexpectedly on July 5, 2010. A man who went toe-to-toe with the likes of McSorley, Domi and Brown – and overcame problems with drug abuse – ultimately lost a battle to a heart attack.
Needless to say, Probert was a tough man. No card better epitomizes Probert’s toughness than his 1990-91 Upper Deck hockey card. Card companies shied away from showing fights, though a few exceptions exist (1973-74 Topps Phil Roberto and 1992-93 Classic Howie Rosenblatt, among others). And while this card does not show fighting per se, it does the next-best thing by showing the aftermath of a fight: a black eye.
During much of his 16 years in the National Hockey League, Probert was the undisputed champion when it came to fighters – at least according to spectators, as other NHL enforcers would routinely “dispute” with Probert. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. And for much of his 16-year NHL career, Probert was the best, though it came with a price: many bumps, bruises, blemishes, black eyes and broken bones.
“Once you get playing, you forget about the pain,” Probert once told his agent, when asked how he could play a few nights after breaking six ribs in a car crash.
Unlike many enforcers, though, Probert could actually help his team offensively too. During the 1987-88 season, Probert scored 29 goals and 33 assists, and was selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game. With the Red Wings, he’d reach or top 40 points two other times. After a year-long, league-mandated rehab program, Probert scored 40 points in his first season with the Chicago Blackhawks. That year, he played on the “Twin Towers Line” – where he and fellow behemoth Eric Daze flanked diminutive center Denis Savard.
In all, Probert played 935 games in the NHL, racking up 3,300 penalty minutes but also scoring 384 points too. All are marks that any enforcer would envy.