Late NHL player’s memoirs describe stint at FMC
Bob Probert, the longtime Detroit Red Wings (1985-’94) and Chicago Blackhawks (1995-’02) player—and arguably the greatest fighter in the history of hockey—died of a heart attack in July of 2010. In October, his memoir, Tough Guy: Life on the Edge was published posthumously.
In it, Probert talked about his three-month stint at Rochester’s Federal Medical Center after he was sentenced for trying to sneak cocaine across the U.S.-Canadian border.
“On Sept. 26, 1989, I was sentenced to six months in jail. I was thinking, ‘That doesn’t seem that bad.’ … On Oct. 17, the details of my sentence came down: three months at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., three months in a halfway house, three years’ probation, a $2,000 fine, plus costs of $3,680. And the kicker, an incarceration cost of $1,210 per month. I would be paying rent in jail.
… It was like a dorm. My room had a window and a thick, heavy door, which was open until 11 p.m. We would be locked up until 6 a.m. It could have been worse. It could have had bars.
I was federal prisoner No.12211-309, and I wore prison garb or whatever you call it—it was brown. I was in there with Jimmy Bakker, the evangelist, and Billy Giacalone, who was a mob boss in Michigan. At that time, Jimmy Bakker was getting his picture taken with inmates—he’d charge $5 for a Polaroid picture. … He was kind of wimpy. He was always complaining about how he twisted his back getting out of the top bunk. Then, one day, we had to get immunization shots, and he started crying. I turned to him and said, ‘C’mon buddy, it’s not that bad. It’s not Jessica Hahn.’
Billy Giacalone is one of the guys they say was behind the Hoffa disappearance. But he was really cool. He was a Wings fan. He said, ‘Hey, Bob, if you get in trouble and someone is bugging you, just pick up a chair and crack it over their head.’
… Jail was tough, but I mean, it wasn’t anything like Alcatraz. … I got my GED while I was in jail. I actually took a college course, Written Communications, but I didn’t finish it. I went to one class, and it was a four-hour lecture with a 15-minute break halfway through, and I was a smoker, so that was a problem. And then we had an essay to do—four pages, so many hundred words, due the next day. I said, ‘Screw this,’ and I never went back.”