Old-Time Hockey Photos

Before Leafs, Brophy was legendary minor-league tough guy

John Brophy in EHL action.

He coached the Toronto Maple Leafs, his surname began with the letter B and he led the Toronto Maple Leafs to a playoff series victory.

Okay, so we know it’s not Mike Babcock.

Nope, it’s John Brophy. He coached the Leafs from 1986-88. During the 1986-87 Stanley Cup playoffs, Brophy guided the Leafs to a first-round six-game upset of the St. Louis Blues before Toronto fell to the Detroit Red Wings in a seven-game Norris Division final. Toronto squandered a 3-1 lead in that series.

John Brophy coaching
John Brophy as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Brophy never came close to playing in the NHL. In fact, he toiled in the Eastern Hockey League from 1952-73 and was a feared minor-pro tough guy. Brophy topped 200 penalty minutes in 11 separate seasons.

Among Brophy’s teammates over the years were Vic Howe – Gordie’s brother – future NHL coaches John Muckler, Don Perry and Wayne Maxner, four-time Stanley Cup champion Andre Pronovost and future NHL goalies Les Binkley, Gilles Villemure, Andy Brown, Ross Brooks and ex-Leaf Marv Edwards. He even wrote a book about his experiences going from the bowels to the penthouse of hockey.



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