What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. This is a different blog than the normal ones I do, as this isn’t about the Rangers/Detroit game on Sunday night. This blog will be about my travels, with a few reviews tossed in.
As I’ve talked about through the seasons, my friends and I make several road games a season. For starters, we like to travel and see how other people live. What makes these trips even better is that 90% of the time, we can get a real good seat for more than 50% off the same seat at M$G. Sometimes, a flight, the hotel and the game ticket is cheaper than a good seat at M$G.
Originally this year, my friends and I were looking to do the California loop. However, we opted to do Chicago and Detroit instead. Maybe we are a little nuts, as we chose two of the coldest cities in America over a warm winter vacation. However, with the Rangers playing their last ever game at “The Joe” this season, we figured we would venture out to Detroit, because after all, California will always be there. In fact, we are hoping that, fingers crossed, Vegas will be added to the California loop next season. Perhaps we can cross off four arenas off our bucket list in one trip next year. Time will tell.
With a four hour round-trip flight ahead of me, I purchased “Tough Guy: My Life on the Edge” by Bob & Dani Probert. Also assisting the authoring of this book was Kirstie McLellan Day. Day has done a great job helping ex-NHLers tell their tales. She worked on two of my favorite hockey books ever, Theo Fleury’s “Playing with Fire” and Wayne Gretzy’s “99.” Since I enjoyed Day’s other works (Check out the archives of this blog for reviews of those books) and since I was going to Detroit, I figured “Tough Guy: My Life on the Edge” was a perfect book to read during my flight. I wouldn’t be disappointed.
To start the review of this book off, let me say, this was a great read. Like Probert himself, this book pulled no punches. Even better, I got this book for only $3 off Amazon.com. One of the perks when you buy a book that was released 6+ years ago.
For those who don’t know, Bob Probert was working on this book with Day before his untimely passing. The only thing Bob didn’t write was the prologue and the finish. Bob’s wife, Dani Probert, was the bread of this book with Bob’s story being the meat. Dani opened and closed the book. When Bob passed away, this had to be a difficult project for Dani because Bob was so blunt and open about everything, including his infidelities and being a screw-up around his children.
What started off as an autobiography, turned into a joint collaboration between husband and wife. It was the last thing they would ever work on together. I give a ton of credit to Dani Probert, because instead of trying to bury bad stories about Bob with Bob’s death, she left them in this memoir.
If you are looking for a clean cut book with light humor, this isn’t for you. “Tough Guy” is just like Bob himself – edgy, feisty and full of fire. Bob openly discusses his entire life and career in the NHL. He talks about his drug & alcohol problems, his arrests, being a bad father/husband, his battles with NHL management and throws in a few sex stories as well. In fact, when I put this book down, I really thought this could be a good movie, because it has everything Hollywood wants – violence, drugs, car crashes and hot chicks.
While it may seem that Bob glamorizes several of these stories, I don’t think that’s his intention. He is just raw and to the point. While many males might read this and say “this is awesome”, you also have to keep in mind that many of these wild stories happened when Bob was married and had kids. Bob even eerily foreshadows his death, as he mentions in the book that he wanted to leave a book for his kids, so they could have the truth. You can tell because of Bob’s wild style of play on the ice and the wild life he lived off of it, that he was a gold mine for sports reporters. Bob would take several reporters to task in this book and wanted to separate fact from fiction.
Bob, who would have trouble lasting in today’s “Pansification Era” of the NHL, something he even talks about towards the end of this book, talks about everything. It is public knowledge that he was arrested several times and had to attend many rehab centers. Many reporters blamed the passing of Bob’s father at such a young age for the root of Bob’s troubles. Bob considers that as bullshit and took responsibility for his actions. I respected that.
Bob talks about his home life growing up and his rise in various leagues before making it to the NHL with the Red Wings. Bob, a Windsor boy, (Windsor, Ontario Canada is 2 minutes away from Detroit, Michigan USA) talks about the Dead Wing era & knowing their situation.
As Bob talks about his NHL career, all the fights, the other enforcers, his contracts and everything else hockey related, Bob chronologically details his troubles with drugs and booze. Indirectly, those substances led to many accidents and arrests.
Bob’s most famous arrest was being caught with a ton of cocaine at the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. I read this book before landing in Detroit. When I got to Detroit, I understood Bob better, because I was in that tunnel 8 times during my trip and saw how easy it was, even now, to jump from country to country. Not that I’m condoning or suggesting it, but I can see why Bob would think traveling with enough cocaine to keep a whole country awake for days, would be no big deal.
The cocaine arrest and citizenship issues would cost Bob a ton of games and money. This would also lead to his exit from Detroit, as the recently deceased Mr. I wanted Bob to take a hit, money wise, at contract time, since he supported Bob through so much. Bob thought Mr. I asked Bob to take too much of a hit and would leave for Chicago.
Part of Bob’s deal with Chicago was that he would have to be subjected to piss tests. Bob talked about how he beat those and how he even fooled trainers into thinking he was taking his antabuse medication. Reading that story, while yea, it’s sad because Bob is dead today, will make you laugh, just because of how Bob’s words on how he fooled everyone.
Bob, while telling stories off his off-ice shenanigans would also focus on the hockey as well. Some of my favorite stories in this book were Bob talking about his fights and the other enforcers around the league. Being a Ranger fan, hearing Bob talk about his battles with Tie Domi was good stuff.
Bob would talk about how he was forced into retirement and never reached his goal of 1000 NHL games played. He took responsibility for his screw-ups off the ice, which cost him a chance to meet and surpass his goal. It’s funny, if Bob played today, he may be phased out of the game. However, if the league was like it is now, Bob would’ve caught on with another team and get his 1000 games. That’s why it’s so hard to compare different players from different eras – so many variables change, even in a 20 year time span.
Bob talked about his family and retirement. He also appreciated visiting the troops in Afghanistan and talked about his travels there. Bob talked about getting in the wrong crowd after retirement and the marriage strife he created.
While Bob is talking about the final year of his life without knowing it, Dani Probert would talk about the end of Bob’s life. Would Bob be with us today if he didn’t have a heart attack on a boat? If Bob was closer to an ambulance than floating on a river, is Bob releasing a second book, akin to Theo Fleury & about redemption? It’s really tough to say. Who knows if Bob would’ve made it? After all, Bob’s father died young and even during the last days of his life, Bob was dealing with an oxycontin addiction. An addiction caused by his physical style of play.
While Dani Probert didn’t bring it up in the book and the knowledge we have now in 2017 is far superior than the knowledge we had in 2011, (when this book was published) Probert was found to have degenerative brain disease, aka CTE. Did CTE cause Bob to make a ton of bad decisions in his life? It’s not a question we know how to answer.
For anyone looking for a “cowboy”/roller coaster type of book, this is for you. I wonder how Probert’s kids take in this book, 7 years after their father’s passing. Probert will always have the respect of the fans, but for the people who knew him best, it seemed like Probert created a lot of trouble and bad situations for them. Bottom line, if you’re a fan just like me, “Tough Guy: My Life on the Edge” is a must-read page turner that you won’t put down until the last page.
You can pick up this book on Amazon by visiting https://www.amazon.com/Tough-Guy-My-Life-Edge/dp/1600786383
As stated, you can get this book for relatively cheap and for $3, you can spend your money on much worse.
After landing in Detroit, Michigan, we rented a car and were off to Caesar’s in Windsor, Canada. Why didn’t we stay in Detroit? Quite simply and sorry if this reaches any Detroit natives – Detroit is a fucking shithole and looks like a set out of the “Walking Dead.” Granted, I did not explore every inch of Detroit, but I passed by all the major sites and the area is so run down.
Being in construction and as someone who follows politics & the economy, what really concerned me about Detroit was that I did not see one crane, one bulldozer, one loader, one backhoe, not one piece of construction equipment anywhere. Here in NY, our skyline is adorned with various cranes and our roads are littered with yellow CAT and green John Deere machines. When I traveled to cities such as Montreal, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, Edmonton, etc, every town looked it was improving itself via construction. Not Detroit. Detroit was as desolate and depressing as it gets.
I don’t care how you lean politically, but we always see President Trump & other politicians talking about the sad state of affairs in Chicago. I’m sorry, Chicago looks like a vibrant Miami beach, compared to the dark hell Detroit has become. I saw President Trump tweeted today about visiting Detroit and hopefully he can come up with something to help fix that area. It’s weird too, because Detroit has one of the nicest airports I’ve ever seen, but once you travel out, the city is nothing but drab and dreary.
Knowing that Detroit isn’t in the best of times right now, we opted to stay in Windsor, Canada. While Windsor doesn’t give you the excitement nor nightlife of a Montreal or Toronto (Last call in Windsor is 1:30AM), it was better than staying in Detroit.
As Probert mentioned in his book, Detroit and Windsor are located two minutes away from each other and is one of the biggest border crossings in America.
Maybe I’m a product of this current era, but the first thing I thought when I got to Windsor was, “What do people do about cell phones here?” Our hotel was 5 minutes from the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, right on the Detroit River. With a gust of wind, we got AT&T service. However, if the wind died down, we had Canada’s ROGERS service. We had the same issue, with the carriers reversed, when in Detroit. Being the sleuth that I am, I found out that both AT&T and Rogers offer a package for border residents, for an extra $10 a month, where border residents could use unlimited international minutes. Granted, I only talked to 5 people about this, so your results may vary, should you ever choose to move to this area!
We stayed at the Caesar Casino in Windsor, and let me say, the place sucks. Flat out sucks. If you’re a New Yorker like me, you are probably familiar with Atlantic City. You may be familiar with Vegas. In Windsor, due to provincial rule, you have to pay for your beers while gambling, there is no smoking and last call is at 1:30am. It’s things like this, why while Canada is great, it will never be the USA.
The other problem is the drinking/gambling age is 19 years old, so you have drunk kids all over the casino. The worst are these asshole mother-canuckers playing Blackjack with you, that ruin a whole table. I had to leave several tables because these stupid Canadian pricks were splitting a pair of Kings against a 6. I laughed when they pulled a 2 and 5 respectively (A 12 & 15 vs a dealers 6) and the dealer pulled a 5 and a face card for the 21. You never throw away a 20! Then, you had these stupid dickheads doubling down on 8’s against a dealer’s 10. Just like Thanksgiving, the Caesar’s of Windsor needs a “kiddie’s table.” I’ve never seen such bad and reckless gambling in my life.
What also drove me nuts about Caesar’s is their pathetic piss-poor excuse of a sportsbook. You could only do parlays and with jacked up point spreads. Additionally, you could only parlay the same sport, so I couldn’t bet the Rangers and the Golden State Warriors on a ticket. With all these rules and wacky point spreads, you’re better off bending over, spreading your ass cheeks and asking Julius Caesar to stick his sword up your coolie!
I’ve been to plenty of casinos in my life and this by far was the WORST casino I’ve ever been to. As someone gambling with more money than 50% of the people in the joint, I had to pay for everything, as opposed to AC where I get free rooms, free food and free booze. There was also a near brawl at a blackjack table I was on, as a group of drunk asian kids and a group of drunk Arabs (I thought Muslims weren’t allowed to drink too) were fighting and screaming. Canadians are too friendly, so this was all allowed. In any other casino, these people would’ve been tossed head first through the door.
The slot machines were tighter than a nun’s hoo-ha too. Since the blackjack tables were ruined by acne-riddled children and the sportsbook was a bigger joke than the Barclay’s calling itself a hockey arena, I played some Wheel of Fortune slots. In my two hours combined of playing that machine, I got about 9 free spins. EVERY FUCKING SPIN LANDED FOR $35, the least amount you can win. They key to any good casino is you gotta give the gambler a chance to win. Casinos make more money when players leave thinking “I could’ve been up, but I got greedy” rather than saying “I got beat like Rihanna for three straight days.”
All in all, I donated $650 Canadian to that little prick Julius Caesar, which is about $3.43 in American money. I’m sorry, I love you Canada and have met many friends & people there, but the Windsor Casino can kiss my red, white and blue ass!
My friends and I are all huge fans of Artie Lange. It worked out that Artie Lange was doing a show in Detroit, at the MotorCity Casino, about a 10 minute car ride from where we were. When it came down to entertainment, we could’ve seen Hawks/Wings or Knicks/Pistons. With those options, Artie Lange was a slam dunk.
I’ve been a fan of Artie Lange ever since he hit the scene. I still think “Beer League” is one of the best movies ever. While “Dirty Work” gets slammed and maybe it’s not even on a Top 1000 list of movies ever made & maybe even “Showgirls 2” is better (Yes there is a Showgirls 2, now available on CRACKLE) but Dirty Work was fun for what it was.
Artie, like Bob Probert, has always been honest with his fans in his books, even talking about his suicide attempt in 2010. He’s been very open about his drug use with fans and has incorporated it into his act. One of the funniest and newest bits in his set was talking about scoring heroin in a bad area and how the heroin was named “The Artie Lange.” When the person driving him to pick up the heroin found out that he was in fact, driving Artie Lange, he called Artie a legend. While I’m glad Artie is clean now (no one wants to see him OD), this was pretty funny. Then again, perhaps the funniest story was Artie talking about how he had to baby-sit Chris Farley at a party once. You know you are off the deep end when Artie is the person who has to keep you clean!
I’ve always enjoyed Artie’s humor, because like me, he’s sick of the PC world and not afraid to say a few offensive things for a laugh. It’s not like he means it. One of the problems with America today is that everyone is looking to be offended by something.
TRUE STORY. I have a “back-up” Facebook account because I have been banned now four times. The first time I got banned, it was because I made a Ben “Rapistberger” joke. The second time I got banned, I made a Tony Homo/gay cowboy joke. The third time I got banned, I don’t remember. It was either over a David Ortiz joke or something else sports related. Now, I just got banned again for get this – calling Henrik Lundqvist a “Swedish asshole who probably gets his asshole bleached.”
I was told Facebook considered that comment as “HATE SPEECH”. Are you nuts? Listen, I really don’t care what Facebook thinks and it’s their service and not my American right to use it, but because I used the word “SWEDISH”, that’s HATE SPEECH? Let’s ignore all the times Facebook has live streams of torture and suicides. Let’s ignore how I’ve seen the n-word used. Let’s ignore the hate mongering and death threats about our President. Let’s ignore verbal attacks on homosexuals. All that stuff is ok. However, me making an OBVIOUS JOKE and using the word “SWEDISH” – that’s a no-no. I hope Mark Zuckerberg gets stuffed in the ass by that Julius Caeser finger!
After a good opener, Artie took the stage. I enjoyed this because our time was limited on this trip. Not that other comedians would be bad, but you don’t want to sit through 16 bands just to get to the Rolling Stones. This was a perfectly paced show.
I would say, as someone familiar with Artie’s act, about 65% of the material here was stuff he’s done before. At a concert that works, because everyone gets to sing along with the hits. At a comedy show, not so much, as you’re forced to laugh at a joke you may have heard a dozen times. He was even using jokes from his Comedy Central specials and from “Crashing” (The parrot joke). Most of this audience were hardcore Artie fans, so I’m sure they heard this stuff before. They still applauded though. However, there was this one couple, who must’ve got free tickets that had no clue what Artie was about. They were not happy as Artie was talking about a hypothetical oral sex situation in prison. They left real quick!
The second half of the show was basically Artie taking requests about different subjects, as the fans would scream out a name and Artie would riff on that person. Artie hyped before the show that he was going to go nuts on Opie but didn’t say anything controversial really.
Artie closed the show with his rendition of “GIMMIE THE LOOT” since it was the anniversary of the death of Biggie Smalls. At least he wasn’t hanging a banner in the rafters for Biggie. Seriously – the Brooklyn Nets did that. I wonder what felonious drug dealer they can honor next? Maybe Pablo Escobar?
If you haven’t seen Artie do “GIMMIE THE LOOT” here it is:
All in all, while Artie did look like hell, he put on a hell of a good show. I hope for his sake he can stay clean, because while he is older than most comedians who struggled with drugs & has lived longer than most have expected, he is a true talent. If you don’t know Artie and want to hear a comedian who isn’t scared of political correctness, Artie is for you. For long time fans, Artie was as good as he’s ever been. This is the third time I’ve ever seen him, and I enjoyed myself. For $60 (fourth row seats), I got my monies worth, more than I can say about seats at M$G!
One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was bring back some Canadian booze. I have priorities you know!
Gretzky Whisky, obviously a whisky I’m only buying for the name, is only available in a few select spots in Canada, with Ontario being one of the provinces that carries it. As of now, unless you can get it shipped to you, you can’t get it here in the States.
I was able to find a liquor store 3 minutes from the Caesar’s Bang You in the Ass Casino. Before continuing let me go on this rant:
I paid for two nights at Caesar’s, gambled with $1000, put in my time at the tables and I couldn’t even extend my stay for an extra night. Luckily, my friend is a Diamond’s member so we got a roll-away bed for Sunday night. In Atlantic City, I would’ve got a free room, a free restaurant/meal voucher and free booze. Here, I was treated like a hooker who has to make $50 the haaaaaaaaard way.
My friend Ray is a Diamond member and also a Delta super-duper customer, which means he can cut lines at the airport. Whatever happened to the Civil Rights act? I thought caste systems were from the days of the feudal system? Here, I’m treated like a serf! Casinos, Airports and M$G are three entities that go out of their way to treat people different than others. Where are those pussy hat protest people to protest the caste system in America? Instead of begging for Syrians to come into the USA (And seriously, the people who protest for Syrian immigration should be forced to take a Syrian in to live with them, since that’s what they want) these protestors should protest this injustice system of Caste-America! One-Two-Three-Four, We Don’t Want a Class System No More!
Where was I going with this? Oh yea, so anyway, I found a liquor store that carries Gretzky Whisky. I’m more of a beer man myself, with the occasional shooter now and then. However, I did enjoy Gretzky Whisky. That said, my extent of whisky tasting include Jameson, Jack Daniels, Tullamore Dew, Maker’s Mark, JP Wisers, Basil Hayden’s and Jim Beam. If Fireball counts (it doesn’t) then I’ve had that too. That said, I enjoyed Gretzky’s Whisky. It was good, but I will stick with my beer. That’s why I picked up a bunch of these for the trip home:
After all these other events that took place during this trip, it was time for the main event. Rangers vs Wings at the Joe, for the last time ever.
I really enjoyed the Joe. The only negative thing I’ll say about it is the bathroom situation. Since my beer consumption leads to about four pisses a game (One before the game and one during each intermission), the bathroom situation is always on my radar! Here’s the bathroom at the Joe:
Not that I’m shy, but the trough urinal systems are not practical in 2017. While I thought this building had a lot of old school charm, this was one thing I hated to see. You got a bunch of guys flopping their cocks out there, in a shoulder-to-shoulder fashion. Again, I’m not shy or homophobic or anything, but I have a phobia of getting piss splashed on me. I took a leak at one of these things, and some guy’s racehorse piss hit the trough and splashed on my hand. That was it for me. After that, I waited an extra 5 minutes to piss in the toilet like a human. Save the troughs for pigs/Islander fans. Everywhere else, this pissing system needs to go bye-bye.
The Joe had a lot of character. You had different vendors selling hockey merchandise, akin to a convention. Game used stuff was also sold by the Wings, which is something you don’t see the Rangers do. You had the 50/50’s (something the Rangers also don’t do, but that could be because of NYC gambling laws), the booster clubs raising money, free giveaways for the kids (Hockey helmets) and free programs for the adults. You also had a great beer selection, with Labatt dominating the building. I was in heaven!
The Joe, while it felt a little Nassau Coliseum-ish, was a much better venue. The place celebrates the history of the team, something the Rangers could learn from. Here are a few examples:
The game itself was an awesome experience because we had really good seats for more than half off of what you’d pay at M$G. During this Farewell to the Joe tour (I even picked up a Farewell to the Joe puck, since I buy a puck at every arena I visit), I saw the Rangers play a great game, except for a crappy second period.
The funniest thing about this night was that the people sitting in front of us wound up being from the same town as Tommy & I. What a small world!
This game is over and forgotten about, so there is no reason to bore you with the game itself. I really enjoyed my time at The Joe and glad I got to see it before Miley Cyrus and the Wrecking Ball come through.
Detroit’s been through hell. Gordie Howe died last year. Beloved owner Mr. I died this year. The city is a fucking shithole. The new building will be called “Little Caesar’s Arena”. (Shouldn’t it be called the Pizza Hut, har har har!) Detroit residents are putting up with a lot.
I don’t know if a new arena can revitalize or breathe a breath of fresh air in the economy of Detroit. Only a mile away, Windsor Canada is nice with a lot to do. I don’t know how you fix Detroit. That’s above my pay grade. I just hope for Detroit and for America, someone figures it out. Maybe this new arena, despite the stupid name, can be the first step.
As I close this monster up, I mentioned beforehand about the change of the game time. Luckily, I wasn’t stuck in Detroit and beat the snowstorm in Detroit and the rainstorm in NYC. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I was stranded in Detroit for two more days. Perhaps hang out at the liquor store like the majority of people I saw!
As far as going back, I eventually will when the new arena is up and running. It may not be next year, it may not be 5 years, but I’d like to go back and I hope the city has rebounded by then. Until I return, I’m pumped for Vegas next season.
Well this blog sure was a doozy. The Rangers return Friday night against the Panthers on St. Patrick’s Day. No promises on a blog after that game. I plan on attending, because I love seeing Jagr live. We’ll see.
Just a quick thought before closing – how great would it be if the Atlantic division finished like this:
Ottawa Senators (Play WC 1 Rangers in first round)
Montreal Canadiens (The Julien Cup first round match-up)
Tampa Bay Bolts (WC 2, and with Stammer coming back, perhaps a team that could knock off Pitt or WSH)
LET’S GO RANGERS
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