James O'Brien

Image via Toronto Maple Leafs

Former Leafs coach John Brophy passes away at 83


TORONTO (AP) John Brophy, who coached the Toronto Maple Leafs for 2 1/2 seasons before coaching in the ECHL for 13 seasons, has died. He was 83.

The ECHL says Brophy, who was from Nova Scotia, died Monday morning after a lengthy illness.

Brophy, an assistant, became head coach of the Maple Leafs for the 1986-87 season, leading Toronto into the second round of the playoffs. He was fired 33 games into the 1988-89 season after the Leafs got off to an 11-20-2 start.

Brophy became coach of the ECHL’s Hampton Roads Admirals for the 1989-90 season. He led the Admirals to three league titles over 11 seasons.

After a season away from coaching, he returned with the Wheeling Nailers, leading the team for two seasons before retiring after 2002-03.

Brophy was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2009.

As a player, he was best known for his rough style. Brophy, who racked up nearly 4,000 career penalty minutes in the minor leagues from 1955-73, is believed to be the role model for Paul Newman’s character Reggie Dunlop in “Slap Shot.” Brophy was once dubbed the “Godfather of Goonery.”

Having never played in the NHL, Brophy and his Long Island Ducks often wreaked havoc throughout the minors. As a player and coach, he was suspended or fined more than a half-dozen times for physical and verbal abuse of referees.

Hitchcock only says that Backes, Fabbri will warm up for Game 5

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 25: David Backes #42 and Robby Fabbri #15 of the St. Louis Blues skate after the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on November 25, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will decide on the status of injured players after the pre-game skate before Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.

Captain David Backes and rookie Robby Fabbri, both forwards, were injured in Game 4. Backes missed the final two periods and Fabbri had just two shifts in the third period of a 6-3 victory that knotted the series at 2-2.

Hitchcock said he’ll have the same number of players dressed for the warmup as in Game 4, when he had two extra forwards and one extra defenseman on the ice.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer indicated he’d have no lineup changes.

Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee


If you were expecting Evgeni Malkin‘s comments about bringing the series back to Pittsburgh for a Game 7 to bother the Tampa Bay Lightning, you’re out of luck.

Or, if that guarantee did provide bulletin board material, the Bolts aren’t admitting it.

Jon Cooper’s response was logical enough.

Good stuff as usual from the Lightning’s often-articulate and outspoken head coach.

“Yeah, I mean, the series isn’t over,” Jason Garrison said. “That’s the mindset that everyone has to have.”

Not exactly smoking hot takes coming from Tampa Bay, but they’d probably be silly to provide anything but boilerplate quotes.

The real responses will come on the ice.

Hitchcock is having ‘fun’ trading barbs with DeBoer

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

For St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, talking smack sure beats talking x’s and o’s.

He admitted that he’s really enjoying the give-and-take that he’s undergoing with San Jose Sharks bench boss Peter DeBoer.

“The answer, do I enjoy it, is yes,” Hitchcock said. “Quite frankly, what you guys report, it’s really boring. We got to have some fun, too. I find it fun.”

The veteran head coach admits that he enjoys sending the media on a “wild-goose chase,” especially if it takes heat off of his players.

(Ah yes, it always comes back to strategy for Hitch.)

He repeatedly said that it’s fun … and you know what? It really is. (He also points out that he coached with DeBoer, though the Sharks coach doesn’t believe that it was much more than a “learning experience.”)

Now we really just need the two coaches to start barking at each other over the glass to really drive the point home.

Granted, DeBoer may not feel the same joy for the trash talk.

For more on their back-and-forth, check out this post.

So, it seems like Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6


The Pittsburgh Penguins are speaking pretty confidently about their chances of keeping their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning alive.

(At least, they’re pretty sure of themselves aside from that pesky goaltending question.)

Maybe Evgeni Malkin didn’t quite go Joe Namath or Mark Messier with reporters on Monday, yet every now and then we need a little guarantee-type bulletin board material. Here’s his quote, via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

“I believe in my team, I believe in myself,” Malkin said. “We’re coming back to Pittsburgh for sure.”

Johnston described it as “an unsolicited guarantee.”

Malkin isn’t the only Penguins player proclaiming that they’re likely to force a Game 7 in Pittsburgh.

It’s understandable that the Penguins feel sure of themselves. After all, Game 5’s defeat marked their first consecutive loss in ages. You don’t rattle off win after win (and bounce back from losses) that regularly without building up some bluster.

Of course, on the other hand, worrisome Penguins fans might be concerned that these comments will give the Lightning that extra push to put this series away on Tuesday night.