New book on hockey’s John Bro­phy re­leased

Au­thor Gregg Inkpen talks about Broph

The Casket - - Sports - RICHARD MACKEN­ZIE richard­[email protected]­cas­

He was a colour­ful fig­ure on the ice and be­hind the bench dur­ing some of hockey’s most bruis­ing years; and now there is a new book out about Antigo­nish icon John Bro­phy, ap­pro­pri­ately ti­tled Broph.

The book, avail­able on Ama­zon, is writ­ten by Long Is­land, New York au­thor Gregg Inkpen who be­came fa­mil­iar with Bro­phy’s ca­reer while work­ing on short films about past Long Is­land-based mi­nor hockey league teams, the Ducks and the Cougars.

Inkpen said it started as he came to know the son of a for­mer Ducks Fan Club pres­i­dent.

“He had this old eight mil­lime­ter film and I put to­gether two videos; first one was in 1995 and it was about [player] John Bro­phy’s team the Ducks. And then, later, when he was done play­ing, he coached a team called the Long Is­land Cougars and I ended up mak­ing an­other video about the Cougars.

“From there, that was 2002 I would say, about a year later, I started read­ing more about

Broph; there seemed to be a lot of sto­ries about him,” Inkpen said in a Nov. 9 in­ter­view with the Cas­ket.

In 2003, Inkpen made con­tact with Bro­phy, who was in Vir­ginia at the time, about do­ing a book. He sent copies of the videos he had made and Bro­phy called him say­ing he was, at least, in­ter­ested in talk­ing about a book.

“So I drove down to Vir­ginia from Long Is­land and we did a week­end of in­ter­views there,” he said.

“I wrote a lit­tle bit about him and then, back in 2008, I flew up to Antigo­nish and spent time at

St. F.X. look­ing up ar­ti­cles on him, things like that. I then spoke to him again for an­other two or three days.

“Ba­si­cally, that was it; we spoke an­other few times by phone. So it’s a book I’ve been work­ing on a long time but there have been times where I’ve put it down for a while.”

Inkpen noted Bro­phy, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 83, was very co­op­er­a­tive in in­ter­views, an­swer­ing all of his ques­tions, but did so cau­tiously.

“I just wasn’t sure if it was go­ing to work be­cause John, he would an­swer any­thing I asked him but he would never get in depth about it,” he said.

So most of the con­trib­u­tors are past hockey as­so­ciates, in­clud­ing names fa­mil­iar to all in this area such as Al Macisaac and Frank Beaton. Inkpen men­tioned Curt Brack­en­bury as an­other hockey per­son­al­ity he worked with.

“He played for John and then was an as­sis­tant coach down in Vir­ginia,” he said. “I in­ter­viewed about 140 peo­ple or so; mostly his for­mer team­mates, coaches, train­ers, and doc­tors from the teams he played and coached for. He mostly played and coached along the east coast; was in Hamp­ton a long time, the East Coast Hockey League.

“So I found as many peo­ple as I could who were close to him. Ev­ery­one had a story, I tell you.”

Asked about what he took from those sto­ries, Inkpen said they sig­naled to him that Bro­phy was all about hockey and win­ning.

“He went through three mar­riages and left a cou­ple be­cause he just wanted to go coach. So it was all hockey and he would do a lot to win,” he said.

“You’ll see in the book a story about him steal­ing the keys to the Zam­boni one time, in the mi­nor leagues when he was coach­ing, be­cause he didn’t want the other team to have a fresh coat of ice to skate on. So he stole the keys and there was no backup. He would do stuff like that.”

Inkpen said there are roughly two chap­ters on Bro­phy’s time as the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He noted that writ­ing in­cludes sto­ries about his run-ins with play­ers like Miroslav Frycer and noted NHL en­forcer Dave Se­menko, as well as his strong re­la­tion­ship with some of the team’s stars.

“Rick Vaive and Ed­die Ol­czyk, for ex­am­ple, they loved him; they felt like Broph made them bet­ter play­ers,” he said. “So there is a lot of mix; a lot of play­ers who liked him and oth­ers [not so much]. I tried to cover it all.”

Cover­ing it all in­cludes pas­sages on Bro­phy grow­ing up in Antigo­nish and the tragedies which be­fell him, in­clud­ing two home fires in his youth and car ac­ci­dents as an adult.

“It’s a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing in there,” Inkpen said, adding the book also in­cludes rare pho­tos he was able to pro­cure.


The book jacket for Broph, by Gregg Inkpen.

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