The hockey world said goodbye to John Brophy this week following a lengthy battle with illness.
The former Toronto Maple Leafs coach carried a reputation as one of the game’s toughest customers. Don Cherry and Ron MacLean shared a story on Coach’s Corner from Brophy’s tenure in Toronto that highlighted that toughness during his tenure with Toronto.
“In the [Montreal] Forum he [Brophy] cut his head and he wouldn’t go get stitched up,” Cherry said over an image of tufts from Brophy’s thick white hair coated in blood behind the bench.
“At the Forum you have to walk all the way around as a coach. He ducked underneath like I used to and there’s a little piece of steel sticking down, and he cut his head for about six stitches and he would not go get sewn up.”
Brophy spent parts of five seasons coaching the Maple Leafs. He later moved on to coach in the ECHL for 13 seasons, capturing three championships with the Hampton Roads Admirals.
“He had over 1,000 wins in pro. The only guy who had more wins in pro was Scotty [Bowman],” Cherry said.
Brophy also accumulated a whopping 3,900 penalty minutes as a defenceman over the course of his minor-pro career. It was in the minor leagues where Cherry first heard of the tough-as-nails Nova Scotian.
“He was so tough that we heard about him down in the Eastern League that a big guy was picking on a little guy on his team, and he said to the guy ‘if you come back in the second period, I’ll kill you,’ and the guy actually took his equipment off and left it in the room and left the building,” Cherry said.
“John Brophy, I can’t say enough…the Irishman, he’s gone now – but boy he was a tough guy.”