The NHL’s Greatest Enforcer Fought Both On And Off The Ice-A Review of Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story.

Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story (2019) Amazon

The Story

If you’re a fan of sports, Detroit, or Bob Probert, Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story is going to tug at your emotions a little.

Tough Guy starts by detailing how a guy like Probert could reach the level of being a crowd favorite of his hometown Detroit Red Wings. Although the Wings weren’t quite on their famous Cup Run, Probert provided a much needed boost in toughness and entertainment. All this came at a time when the Red Wings were known as the Dead Wings. Probie would turn out to be one of the players that would lay the ground work for the Red Wing’s dynasty that would soon follow his tenure. As long time NHL player Jermery Roenick described Probert in the documentary- “he was Mr. Detroit”.

pc: Tough Guy trailer

Unfortunately, Probert’s contributions would come at a cost. In order to continue playing (more so fighting) at such a high level, Probert had to resort to various substances to ease the pain. At several points in Probert’s career he faced legal issues ranging from cocaine possession to drunk driving.

Probert’s demons would continue to haunt him for the majority of his life.

pc: Tough Guy trailer

Probert will be forever known as one of the greatest fighters in NHL history. Fans loved Probert’s rivalries with other NHL enforcers Wendel Clark, Tie Domi, and Stu Grimson. There was several references in the documentary about Probert’s injuries from these fights including CTE.

Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story is also the name of the book about Probert’s life.

The District Decision

For those of you old enough to remember the days when Probert was playing for the Detroit Red Wings, you’re going to love reliving all the classic Probie moments.

If you do have that strong of connection to his story, there is no doubt your heart will sink (again) each time Bob’s demons get the best of him throughout the film. What makes the documentary even more emotional is Probert’s wife’s, Dani, willingness to to be open and candid about her husband’s struggles and successes.

Probert’s story….you know how it sadly ends. Even knowing the ending, I found myself emotionally invested in Probie’s fight to shake off his demons by living a long and healthy life with his family. When you’re snapped back to reality with the inevitable end of Probert’s life, you can’t help but feel for Dani and his children.

When a documentary is able to build a strong emotional bond between the subject and the viewer, especially when the story has already been played out in real life, this is what I view as a classic documentary. A classic documentary can create this bond that will cause the audience to feel pride when the subject is successful, anger at controversial topics, and deep sadness at failures or death.

Final Grade: The District Decision for Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story is that the film is A Classic/Niche with a final grade of B.

The District Decision Grading Scale: Skip It (not worth the watch), Niche (worth the watch for those interested in the topic), Background Noise (worth having on while doing other activities), Worth It (worth your time), Classic (one of the best examples of the documentary genre).

District Facts

  • Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story is based off of the 2010 book that Probert had started as a memoir before his death. Probert’s wife Dani honored his wishes and later finished the book.
  • If you’re a hockey fan, you will notice some major names during the interviews. People like Jermey Roenick, Don Cherry, and Chris Chelios all make an appearance in the film.
  • Initial critical reviews of the film were mixed, but Tough Guy has received a 100% on audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Director(s)Geordie Day
Run Time94 Times

More about The Documentary District: We are a team dedicated to reviewing documentary films and shows in an effort to promote independent film making. We also provide information on where to stream new documentaries as they become available. If you are a film maker and want us to review or feature your work, you can E-mail us at

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