At some point, everyone who was interviewed in Geordie Day’s new documentary, Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story, was asked the same sort of question.
What drove Bob Probert’s demons? Why did he have them? Why was he so self-destructive?
“It’s a hard answer to give and I understand why people were reluctant to answer when I asked them that,” says Day. “I think that there are multiple reasons and I think we try to explore those within the film. There have been a lot of theories that would come forward. I don’t know if I have one answer. Hopefully you can watch the movie and come up with your own theory.”
“There’s usually not one answer,” he adds.
It’s true that the film, which will screen at the Plaza Theatre on Dec. 8 and begin airing on Super Channel beginning Dec. 14, does not really offer a definitive answer as to why one of the National Hockey League’s most fierce enforcers led a life filled with drugs, booze and womanizing. The early death of his father just before Probert began his hockey career in Brantford in the Ontario Hockey League was certainly traumatic, although Probert himself often dismissed this as the blame for his subsequent addiction problems. There’s the theory that many of the NHL’s tough-guy enforcers from the 1980s and 1990s were prone to abusing drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with their role in the game and what was expected of them. An even simpler theory is that Probert, like many gifted athletes, was simply driven to the extreme in all his activities, whether it be hockey, womanizing, drinking or taking drugs.