Former Leafs coach John Brophy passes away at 83

Image via Toronto Maple Leafs

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.