On October 23, 2010, Evan Brophey got the call all AHLers dream about. The Chicago Blackhawks needed him. He was getting his first look at the NHL. It wouldn't be his last as he recently got a similar call from the Colorado Avalanche front office. He is now the fourth player from Lake Erie to make the Avs' roster this season, and there's no doubt the 25-year-old centerman is hoping to stay.
Brophey (Kitchener, ON) was drafted by the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League in 2002, going 37th overall. He played two full seasons for the Colts, averaging 13 goals and 13 assists per season during that time. He appeared in the team's playoff run both seasons and helped take the Colts to the second round in 2003-2004 with four goals and three assists in 12 games.
Ten games into the 2004-2005 season, Brophey was traded to the Belleville Bulls, where he more than doubled his output. In only 53 games, the forward posted 61 points (25g, 36a) during the regular season; he added two more goals and one assist in the Bulls' short playoff run, which ended in a quarterfinals loss to the Peterborough Petes.
That summer, the Chicago Blackhawks drafted Brophey 68th overall (3rd round).
Brophey played 22 games in Belleville during the 2005-2006 season, continuing to score at over a point per game pace, before being traded to the Plymouth Whalers. He didn't let up on the offense, though, and finished the regular season in Plymouth with 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points in 40 games. He will always be remembered by the Whalers faithful for his game-winning, overtime goal against Saginaw as it clinched the West Division title for the team. Plymouth made it into the Western Conference Semifinals, during which time Brophey again contributed in big ways (4g, 7a).
However it was the 2006-2007 season when Evan really broke out. In a career year, he scored 36 goals and added a staggering 71 assists for 107 points in only 68 games. That season, he also turned up his physical game which ended up costing him 91 minutes in the penalty box. His strong play pushed the Whalers all the way to the OHL Finals, where they defeated the Sudbury Wolves 4 games to 2. Brophey's 23-points was an integral part in the Whalers' successful championship run.
After taking home the J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions, Brophey and his teammates advanced to the Memorial Cup tournament, where Evan scored two goals and one assist in their third-place finish. The Whalers' Alternate Captain left the team ranking 9th on the team's all-time scoring list (142 points).
The 21-year-old signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Blackhawks on May 15, 2007. That fall, he reported to the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. His first season, 2007-2008, was a modest one as he only registered 4 goals and 15 assists in 74 games. He continued to apply the physical pressure, though, and logged 64 penalty minutes. By the 2008-2009 season, he had gained the reputation of a hard-working, blue collar player. His production nearly doubled that season (16g, 23a), and he added a goal for measure that post-season (4 games).
Brophey continued to provide solid, tough play, and he finished the 2009-2010 season in much the same fashion as the year before, although he did see his PIMs drop to only 39.
2010-2011 was a bittersweet year for the 6'1", 205-lb forward. He played his first NHL game in October and earned his first professional suspension in March. In Brophey's NHL debut, he played a solid game. In 7:09 of ice time, he won four of five faceoffs, blocked a shot, got one shot on goal and had three hits. Unfortunately, the depth of Chicago's roster limited him to just that one game. He returned to Rockford and was honored in January for becoming only the second IceHogs player to reach 200 games with the team. Unfortunately, his performance that season was less than stellar. Perhaps trying too hard, Evan's PIMs jumped back up to the 65 mark, but his point production lagged at only 10 goals and 9 assists in 67 games. The worst part of the season, however, came on March 25, 2011.
The Rockford Register Star reported the incident as follows:
Brophey had just left the penalty box when he collided with Hunter, hitting him high. Brophey said after the game that his intention was to go shoulder to shoulder.
Brophey was whistled for a check to the head major and a game misconduct. Bishop suffered multiple injuries and remains out indefinitely.
It was an unfortunate situation. All agreed that Brophey was not the type of player who would do something like this intentionally. In the wake of a crack down on blind-sided hits both at the AHL and NHL levels, it seemed inevitable that this would provide the league's governors a chance to make a statement. Brophey was given a 7-game suspension, ending his season early.
On July 8, 2011, Evan Brophey signed a one-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche. After a solid training camp, he was sent to play for Colorado's AHL team, the Lake Erie Monsters. He's been a major part in the Monsters' improving season, illustrated by his hat trick in a 4-1 victory over the San Antonio Rampage on Friday, November 11, 2011. Although you probably won't see him net three in his first official game with the Avalanche, you can absolutely expect Evan Brophey to bring hustle, muscle and grit to the ice. He's not afraid to do the dirty work in the corners or in front of the net, which is something no hockey team can do without.