As told to: Joe PackAll the stories about John Brophy seem to be along the same lines, don’t they? He was, shall we say, somewhat stubborn. I’d heard about him for some time and with all the build up, I almost didn’t want to meet the guy.
I’ve heard the stories and I can easily see John spearing someone in the mouth, the same someone who had spit on him earlier in the game. I think it’s an honest interpretation of him. I didn’t meet him until he was an assistant with Toronto in 1984-85. That’s why I was able to immediately recognize the aspects of Reg Dunlop in John Brophy, or perhaps more John Brophy in Reg Dunlop, let’s put it that way.
I just had Steve Carlson on our show last week and he pretty much insists that Brophy is the model for Slap Shot‘s Reg Dunlop. They may have taken characteristics from other people to create the character — perhaps John never felt regret as Reg does later in the movie — but I think that was the inspiration for Nancy Dowd.
Those at the Cannes film festival always talk about Fellini movies, well this is a Foligno movie.
By the way, this is the greatest film ever made. It is a documentary. Those at the Cannes film festival always talk about Fellini movies, well this is a Foligno movie. When Reg gets the phone call in what we know, in real life, was Bruce Boudreau’s apartment, he’s told, “You can’t put a bounty on a man’s head!” and he says, “I just did.” That’s the epitome of John right there.
When I’m invited to high school graduations, I invariably bring three DVDs to prepare students for their adult lives. One of them is always Slap Shot. Another is Animal House and usually The Blues Brothers.
I would say mid 60’s to mid 70’s in the minors — that’s where I would place John best. It’s almost like trying to ask in which era to place Scotty Bowman.
I think the super gifted athlete has a difficult time coaching because he’s never had to study the game for the most part. Just look at Wayne Gretzky behind the bench of the Coyotes. Not that he had an Edmonton Oilers list of talent with which to work, but it’s interesting to see. In baseball, the coaches are your utility shortstops and catchers, in football it’s somebody who had to work in the background and then be stubborn enough to push his way to the top. That’s what was like with Scotty Bowman too.
John Brophy and John Muckler were once coaching against each other and with one referee, you could get away with a lot more. Brophy carried the rule book in his pocket and knew he was going to throw it at the ref. So he wrote Muckler’s name on the inside cover. The referee picks it up and shouts, “Muckler, you’re outta here!”
In Johnstown, they put up a kind of Hall of Fame area with old pictures of the Eastern league and North American league in the media room. When Broph came in and saw that, he sat down and it was non-stop story time with Uncle Johnny until they had to pry him out of there to actually start the game. He loved those days. It was a life he absolutely loved and I think that’s what drove him.
JOE PACK is a freelance writer based in Toronto and a rec-league rent-a-goalie.
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