John Brophy: The Long and Winding Road
It was a winter evening in Greensboro North Carolina. My friend Joe and I had decided to enjoy a Greensboro Monarchs (ECHL) game.
On the way into the building a gentleman approached us and asked us if we wanted a couple of great tickets. We told him we already had tickets. He asked where our tickets were in the rink. He then noted that these tickets were right behind the visitors bench. He also surprised both of us by saying that the tickets were free because he needed to leave now because his wife just went into labour!
What luck... five minutes later with a cold drink in my hand we located the free seats, and yes, they were excellent seats!
Within a few minutes of sitting down, someone caught my attention.
"Is that John Brophy?" I asked my friend.
"Who's that?" my North Carolinian friend asked.
"He used to coach the Leafs!" I answered in disbelief or should I say dis be-LEAF!
The person next to us quickly informed me that YES it was John Brophy.
I immediately thought to myself, "Why on earth is John Brophy coaching down here in the ECHL...hmmm how far they fall."
I explained to my friend the tumultuous tenure of the white haired legend, as a Leafs coach.
Then the game began and I thought not much more of it.
Soon I was faced with the most entertaining live game experience I have ever witnessed.
Five seats over from us a Monarchs fan had a rather large team flag and was waving it over Brophy's head just enough to be massively irritating.
It didn't take long for Brophy to react. He quickly turned around and smacked the flag away and yelled at the annoying fan.
Within about a few seconds I saw a massive BIG GULP SIZED cup of pop flying through the air heading towards the coach.
I remember thinking "Uh-oh, this isn't gonna be good"
I was right.
The pop hit Brophy in the shoulder and exploded all down the side of his suit.
The next few minutes could have been pulled right out of the movie Slap Shot. Fans yelling, players climbing into the stands...it was AWESOME! Things were eventually calmed down, with offending fans ejected.
I don't remember the score but I couldn't care less, I got to see Brophy lose it!
After that game I hadn't thought much about John Brophy until one day I saw him on TV. He looked terrible!
What I hadn't known at the time was that he was recovering from a terrible car accident that almost killed him.
I remember thinking, "Man that guy sure has lived an eventful life!"
I was even more surprised recently when I found out he's STILL COACHING! If this guy isn't a study in longevity, I don't know who is.
The most amazing thing I also found out was the fact that John Brophy is SECOND only to SCOTTY BOWMAN in victories by a coach in professional hockey! Who would have thought?
John Brophy I salute your tenacity and ability to bounce back!
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