It's great to see Hull, Mikita, Koroll, Esposito, et al returning to the fold and rejoining the rising tide of Blackhawk Nation.
And in that spirit, there's another old-time Blackhawk who needs to be invited back to the U.C..
He was with the Hawks for eight seasons and three playoff runs. He played on a line with Coach Denis Savard. He scored the last goal ever scored in an NHL game at Maple Leaf Gardens. He always had a friendly hello and a handshake for any fan. He was once called the toughest player to ever play in the NHL by Barry Melrose of ESPN. And he gave Blackhawk fans some great memories.
I was somewhat disappointed (though not totally surprised) to see him recently wearing a Red Wing sweater at a Detroit Alumni gathering at Joe Louis Arena.
I'm talking about #24, Bob Probert.
Listen, I'm not here to make the argument that Probert's number should be retired (obviously, it shouldn't) or that he's more Blackhawk than Red Wing (he had better years on the ice in Detroit, and he grew up almost a stone's throw from the Joe).
But one of the best things Bob Pulford and Bill Wirtz ever did was take Probie in to the organization in the summer of 1994, and give him the time and space he needed to turn his life around.
Yes, toward the end of his days in Chicago, apparently Probie had a bit of a relapse, and then some well-documented issues for a couple of years after leaving Chicago. But the man has a disease. And in addition to fighting (and soundly beating) the likes of Scott Parker and Tie Domi while with the Hawks, he's fought his disease every day since. And in spite of the occasional slip-ups, since he came to the Hawks 14 years ago, he's won more than he's lost.
And that's all the more reason, in my mind, to bring him back, to welcome him back as part of our heritage, and honor him.
Last I heard, Probie was living back in Windsor with his wife and three daughters and doing some work in hockey.
As part of the very nicely-produced, emotionally rousing heritage video that plays at the U.C. before every game, Probert appears fairly prominently.
It's time he appeared in person as well.