John Brophy (Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
John Brophy, the second-winningest coach in professional hockey history, passed away Monday at 83. Brophy won 1,027 games and spent the majority of his coaching career in the ECHL, which named its coach of the year award after Brophy and inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2009.
The hockey world is mourning the loss of John Brophy, 83, who is one of the most iconic minor league coaches in the history of the game and one of the winningest bench bosses in professional hockey history.
In a statement released Monday, the ECHL, where Brophy coached for 13 seasons, announced his passing following “a lengthy illness.”
“The entire ECHL is saddened to hear of the passing of John Brophy,” said ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna in the release. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Brophy family. There was no greater competitor than John Brophy.”
Over his tenure as a professional coach, Brophy, a native of Antigonish, N.S., spent 11 seasons with the ECHL’s Hampton Roads Admirals and two with the Wheeling Nailers. He would also have stints as a coach in the EHL, NAHL, SHL, WHA, CHL, AHL and NHL, where he coached two and a half seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs following a season as an assistant for the Maple Leafs. During his time in Toronto, the Maple Leafs posted a 64-111-18 record and he relieved of his duties midway through his third season with the club.
And though most came to know Brophy as the coach of the Maple Leafs, it was the ECHL where he made his biggest mark. In 11 of the 13 seasons he was an ECHL bench boss, his teams made the post-season and he won three titles while with the Admirals before retiring with a career record of 480-323-79. His lengthy ECHL career made him the longest-tenured and winningest coach in league history at the time of his retirement. He currently ranks third in victories and has been passed by three coaches for the most games coached.
In 2009, Brophy was inducted into the ECHL’s Hall of Fame, but he had been immortalized by the league several seasons earlier, when the league renamed the coach of the year award as the John Brophy Award following his final season behind an ECHL bench.
Combining his victories in all leagues, Brophy sits second all-time in professional coaching with 1,027 victories. Only the legendary Scott Bowman has more. Brophy coached his final season in 2006-07 with the Richmond Renegades.