NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Former Admirals head coach John Brophy has passed away at age 83, the team announced Monday.
Brophy coached in Norfolk for 11 years — when the team was known as the Hampton Roads Admirals — winning three East Coast Hockey League championships during that time.
Also known for his fiery antics, the man flat out knew how to win. Blake Cullen, who owned the Admirals from 1989 to 2000, first hired Brophy when he took over the team, and he says Brophy’s impact on the team and hockey in Hampton Roads is indisputable. “”He put the Admirals on the map,” said Cullen, who still lives in Norfolk.
“We were just starting. He was our first and only coach for me, and he put the whole league on the map. The ECHL never had anybody of his caliber before.”
The Admirals noted in Facebook post Monday morning that Brophy won 416 games while he coached in Norfolk.
He also coached in the National Hockey League with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Brophy was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2009, and was the first member of Admirals Hall of Fame. Dennis McEwen, known as “The Original Admiral,” helped win the first two championships under Brophy, and says what fans witnessed from the stands was far from the only side to the man everyone knew as “Broph.”
“He was still all about the players, and that’s one of those things, as a player that you really truly appreciated about the man,” said McEwen, who played for the Admirals from 1989 to 1998.
“He put you in a position to succeed and to win, and we did, and even then, he wasn’t about to take any of that glory. Absolutely a terrific coach and a great man.”