If you’re a hockey fan, you know John Brophy.
Even if you’re too young to remember him, or you’re too new to the sport, or you’re not especially well-versed on your minor league record books, you still know John Brophy. The longtime coach, who passed away on Monday at the age of 83, left a lasting mark on every hockey fan, even those who may not know him by name.
That’s because, according to show business legend, Brophy was the inspiration for the most famous depiction of pro hockey in pop culture history: Paul Newman’s Reggie Dunlop from the classic film “Slap Shot.” That movie, with its over-the-top violence and “old-time hockey” ethos, set the template for how the sport would be perceived for generations. Brophy was where it all began.
But it should go without saying that a well-scripted Hollywood creation didn’t quite measure up to the reality. The real John Brophy wasn’t Reg Dunlop. No, the real guy had a far crazier story than any movie script could ever do justice.