On November 22, Wendel Clark's #17 will be raised to the rafters as the team honours its former captain and arguably the most popular player in franchise history.
In the lead up to that night, Down Goes Brown will feature a countdown of Wendel's Top 17 Greatest Moments.
In the early 90s, Bob Probert was the NHL's bad boy. Generally regarded as the undisputed heavyweight champion, the Red Wings enforcer made headlines for his battles on and off the ice. When he wasn't handing out brutal beatings to unfortunate opponents, he was waging a losing struggle with drugs, alcohol and the law.
In the spring of 1989, Probert was arrested on drug charges and ordered deported from the United States. As a result, he could no longer travel to Canada because leaving the U.S. would mean being denied entry on his return. So for almost four years, Probert remained in the States, playing only in American cities and staying home whenever the Wings traveled to Canada.
Then came news on December 8, 1992 that Probert had been cleared for travel. As luck would have it, the Wings were scheduled to play in Toronto the next night. The reinstatement was major news, getting front page coverage in Canadian newspapers and adding an unmistakable element of drama to the game. Suddenly, a decent mid-season game had become the focus of the entire hockey world.
Bob Probert, the NHL's heavyweight champion, was returning to his native Canada after four years in exile. It was a Hallmark moment, an epic feel-good story of perseverance and redemption.
Unfortunately, Wendel Clark didn't get the script, and he decided to welcome Probert back to Canada in his own special way.
This wasn't the typical Wendel Clark fight that ends with Clark in the penalty box and the other guy in a pine crate. Probert took his shots and stayed on his feet, which is more than most Wendel opponents would be able to say. If, you know, you unwired their jaw long enough for them to talk.
No, this was just Wendel Clark sending a simple message to Probert: You might be the heavyweight champ in every other arena. Just not in The Gardens. Not in my house.