Probert had fists of stone, gentle soul: Yzerman

Former NHL legend Bob Probert was remembered by friends as a man whose passions could be summed up in four words: food, fun, friendship and family.

NHL's Bob Probert remembered at funeral service by friends, family

Former NHL legend Bob Probert was remembered by friends Friday as a man whose passions could be summed up in four words: food, fun, friendship and family.

Hockey fans might also add "fighting" to the list, as Probert, a former Detroit Red Wing and Chicago Blackhawk, was known as the league's enforcer for his frequent on-ice showdowns: 240 fights in 935 games.

Steve Yzerman, general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, delivered the eulogy at the funeral in Probert's hometown of Windsor, Ont.

He said his former teammate was an intelligent hockey player with "fists of stone" and a kind-hearted, gentle soul who was respected in the National Hockey League.

Probert died Monday at the age of 45 while boating with his family on Lake St. Clair. It was confirmed at the funeral that Probert died of a heart attack.

'Forever free'

Fans lined the funeral procession route to the Probert family's church, Windsor Christian Fellowship.

Fans of Bob Probert lined the funeral procession route in Windsor on Friday, many with Detroit Red Wings jerseys and flags. ((Darrin Di Carlo/CBC))

Probert loved motorcycles, and his casket was escorted by at least 50 rumbling bikes, carried alongside in a custom sidecar bearing a sign reading, "Forever free."

Many of the fans lining the route were wearing Red Wings jerseys or waving team flags.

One Montreal Canadiens fan told CBC News he had to come to the southwestern Ontario city to pay tribute to a player he had much respect for, calling Probert "a gentle giant."

Hockey legends pay respects

Visitations began Wednesday and ever since, celebrities including Don Cherry, Doug Gilmour and Mike Ilitch have been streaming in to pay their respects to the former Red Wing and Chicago Blackhawk who played 16 seasons in the NHL between 1985 and 2002.

Former hockey stars were among nearly 1,000 mourners at the church and included Tie Domi, Chris Draper, Darren McCarty, Mickey Redmond as well as hockey executives Ken Holland and Colin Campbell.

Inside the church, a large picture of Probert with the number 24 in red and white sat at the front of the room.

Each of Probert's four children spoke about their father, including teenaged Brogan.

"I'm going to miss my daddy," she said, bringing many mourners to tears.

"He won't be here to walk me down the aisle, he won't be here to see me grow up."

Daughter Tierney also remembered her father as goofy, playful and adventurous.