Hundreds of mourners crowded the Windsor Christian Fellowship Friday morning to pay final respects to NHL legend Bob Probert, who died Monday at the age of 45 after experiencing chest pains while boating with his family on Lake St. Clair.
Wednesday’s visitations and today’s funeral were attended by mourners that included hockey figures Tie Domi, Chris Draper, Darren McCarty, Mickey Redmond as well as hockey executives Ken Holland and Colin Campbell.
Also paying respects this week were Kingston born hockey commentator Don Cherry and player Doug Gilmour, who was also a pallbearer in the ceremony.
Don Cherry described Probert as both a gentle, soft spoken giant and an unsurpassed enforcer in the game.
Cherry recounted to the Canadian Press that he remembers attending a game where Probert was set to have a rematch with Troy Crowder after the two had staged a memborable fight earlier in the season. Everyone in the building was abuzz with anticipation.
“I said to the linesman before, ‘If they get started don’t break them up.’ The linesman said, ‘Are you kidding? I want to see it, too,”‘ recalled Cherry. “The puck was up in the other end and everyone was watching Probert and Crowder. I remember he hit Crowder so hard, his helmet went about 10 feet in the air.
“It was a dandy.”
Doug Gilmour – a former Flames player and current coach of the Kingston Frontenacs – also described him as a gentle giant to the Toronto Sun, adding “But when he put a helmet on and would go on the ice, he was a fierce competitor.”
“When you were playing against him, you’re intimidated. Then you get to meet him in person — our familes hung around each other in Chicago as neighbours — and you get to see another side… He cared about people. He cared about his team and, obviously, his family.”
“We all loved him.”
After retiring, Probert participated in several local charity hockey tournaments and was a big supporter of Canadian soldiers – visiting Afghanistan along with other former players.
Bob Probert is survived by his wife and four children.
Photograph showing Doug Gilmour bearing the casket of Bob Probert as he leaves the church : courtesy of The London Free Press. Photo by Mike Hensen.