I think some of you guys are missing some key facts in this Probert-Brashear debate.
#1 They are almost 7 years apart in age. Probert started his career in 86-87 when there was no instigator and the code really didn't exsist. Guys headbutted, pulled hair, hit guys already on the ice amd for the most part, fights were real. None of this "hey wanna go, ok , good luck buddy" silliness we have today. Guys were meaner and had no problems hurting other players. Probert thrived in that time and was the king. Almost every team had a few "loose cannons" on their team and Probert beat them all,. If someone beat Probert, you could damn well bet, he wanted a chance to redeem himself next time those players met. Probert was a protector of his teammates and a pretty skilled player to boot. An All-star with a 29 goal season.
#2 Brashear started his career in 94-95, 8 years after Probert and 2 years after the instigator rule was put in. Because of this rule, teams carried one, two or maybe three guys who would fight, where in Proberts day, there were most likely 7-8 on each team. It was still a tough league, but no as much as the 80's. Brashear to me was the opposite of Probert as most of his fights were for himself and he was more of the "bully" type who intimidated players as they never knew when he would snap.
#3 The McSorely incident comes up big here for me. The entire incident happened because Brashear beat Marty earlier and REFUSED to give him a re-match (something I don't think Probert would have done as he seemed to give guys the chance to take his belt whenever the call has made) and Brashear took out Byron DaFoe with a cheapshot and again REFUSED to answer for it (again not something I see Probert ever doing). As much as people think that momment was McSoerlys defining momment, to me it was much more Brashears career in a nut shell.
#4 Last but not least, if I was starting a team and had the choice between Probert and Brashear, it would honestly be a real tough choice. If I wanted a guy who I knew would protect my stars, take a regular shift, score a few goals, accept any challenge and beat the other teams toughest player, I'd go with Probert.
If I wanted a loose cannon to scare the crap out of the other teams skilled players and tough guys, a guy capable of beating anyone when he felt like it, a guy who would go after any player he damn well felt like and just be an effective bully on the ice, there isnt a guy in history (except maybe the original Schultz, lol) better than Brashear.
Also a little side note ...
"In the January 2010 issue of The Hockey News, Brashear was named enforcer of the decade, noting that although he did not lead the NHL in number of fights, during the decade, he would have been involved in more if "he wasn't so feared". Hockey analyst Bill Clement states that "Brashear has a great sense of when his fighting skills are necessary and he picks his spots before dropping the gloves. He’s excellent at understanding when a bit of pugilism might well provide the push or nudge to get some momentum going for his team." The Hockey News also assessed his skills by saying he possessed one of the most intimidating packages in the league, had a decent skating stride and was one of the best pugilists in the NHL.
Two guys who played in different era's with different styles, but both ruled thier respective times, so its a tough call either way. Me? I'd rather have my tough guy a loose cannon like Brashear, but I can't argue someone picking Probert for sure.