Protector of the puck: Probert

SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

If you want the last goal puck from Maple Leaf Gardens, you'll have to head down Windsor way to fight Bob Probert -- and his family.

Coming up 10 years this week since the Bruise Brother became an unlikely part of building lore by scoring the last of an estimated 17,000 NHL goals at MLG, Probert has fought the urge to make a good buck from the puck.

"I'm keeping it for my son Jack," Probert vowed while taking a break from Doug Gilmour's charity ball hockey tourney in Kingston. "He's just eight years old (playing on a travelling team from Tecumseh, Ont.), but he'll really appreciate having it some day.

"After that last game (a 6-2 Chicago Blackhawks' win against the Leafs), there was a lot of talk in our dressing room about the puck, like: 'H ey Probie that's worth about $50,000'. But I've never wanted to sell it. I was surprised the Hall of Fame didn't ask for it, but I think they have some other stuff of mine from that game."

Ownership of the disc took on new meaning for the reformed bad boy from the 1980s when he met Harold (Mush) March. The latter scored the first goal in Gardens history when the Hawks won 2-1 on Nov. 12, 1931, having also scored the last one at the Leafs' former home, the Mutual St. Arena. March brought his Gardens puck to the opening faceoff of the '99 finale and showed it off to Probert at a Hawks' alumni gathering before his death in 2002 at age 93.

There was 8:55 to play when Probert scored on Curtis Joseph that night and he fully expected someone more noteworthy, such as teammate Gilmour or Leafs' Mats Sundin, to get another before Paul Morris intoned 'last minute of play' one final time on Carlton St. Probert only scored 179 in 1,016 career games, mostly with Detroit, gaining all his fame for 3,574 penalty minutes as a heavyweight rogue.

Probert's part in the Detroit -- Toronto wars of the Norris Division era always made the games here special.

"I just remember what a great week that was with my wife (Dani) having her birthday on Feb. 12 and me scoring that goal on the 13th," Probert said. "I wasn't a Leaf fan as a kid, but I watched them on TV and so many great players were on that team and played in that building."

Probert has a new group of fans who revere his toughness, Canadian soldiers and support staff in Afghanistan, where he is about to make his third trip with NHL alumni to help lift spirits on the front lines.

The winning goalie in that MLG game was Jocelyn Thibault, who three years earlier had won the last game for the Canadiens at the Montreal Forum.


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