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history of "the Trap"

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01-11-2008, 11:06 AM
  #1
bagopucks
 
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history of "the Trap"

due to Claude Julien's system, Bruins fans are talking more than ever about the infamous Trap. I've seen this system blamed on: the Devils, the Canadians, and international teams seeking to slow down the mighty Red Army team.

What team was really the first to use it?

Can one coach be dubbed the "Father of the Trap"?

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01-11-2008, 05:19 PM
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justsomeguy
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Hap Day gets my vote for his work with the Leafs of the mid-late 40s.

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01-11-2008, 05:28 PM
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Most early NHL teams played a variation of the trap in the 40's and 50's, although the early 40's had some high scoring years for the times(41-47). They didn't call it the trap back then. It was just the way the game was played. Defensemen didn't join the offense and most stayed at home.

Orr was the one who really turned hockey into a high scoring affair.

The turning point of run and gun hockey was Between NJ winning a cup in 95 using this strategy, then a crappy crappy expansion team like Florida making it to the finals. After Florida showed what it was capable of, combined with the uprising of clutching and grabbing that became common around that time, almost all teams started using it in some form or another.

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01-11-2008, 07:27 PM
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Montreal Canadiens maybe, but at the same time in the '70s as good as they were defensively the were just as prolific offensively. Only the '88 Flames, '71 Bruins and the '80s Oilers scored more goals than the '77 Habs

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01-11-2008, 08:17 PM
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pitseleh
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I believe Tommy Gorman was also credited with using a form of the trap in the 30s. I'm pretty sure someone during the ATD mentioned this (Spitfire11?).

I'd imagine it'd be after the introduction of the forward pass so that may be the first documented use. If not, I think Hap Day's Leafs teams would be a good candidate. It may not have been called 'the trap', but it's quite likely it's a similar system.

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01-12-2008, 01:42 AM
  #6
Hank Chinaski
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pitseleh View Post
I believe Tommy Gorman was also credited with using a form of the trap in the 30s. I'm pretty sure someone during the ATD mentioned this (Spitfire11?).

I'd imagine it'd be after the introduction of the forward pass so that may be the first documented use. If not, I think Hap Day's Leafs teams would be a good candidate. It may not have been called 'the trap', but it's quite likely it's a similar system.
I remember reading this in Total Hockey (the 2000 edition), that it was Hap Day's Leafs that pioneered this system. Called it "kitty bar the door" hockey.

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01-12-2008, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by bagopucks View Post
due to Claude Julien's system, Bruins fans are talking more than ever about the infamous Trap. I've seen this system blamed on: the Devils, the Canadians, and international teams seeking to slow down the mighty Red Army team.

What team was really the first to use it?

Can one coach be dubbed the "Father of the Trap"?

Honestly, I've never understood the modern fuss over this. For one thing, no one coach or team of today can claim to have "invented" it, least of all the Devils. But in '95, we were coming off an extended offensive era, and the Devs had just missed the Cup final in '94 to the Rangers by the narrowest of margins (2OT in Game 7). They knew they were very close, but needed a way to maximize a brilliant young goalie (Brodeur), a really solid D corps, but forwards of modest offensive talent.

So Lemaire instilled a more regimented system of flooding the neutral zone with bodies while simultaneously forcing a hasty play out of the opposing puck carrier by swinging pressure his way. Rather than get pinched with the puck in his own end, he throws it toward center ice, where Devils are waiting. Or at least, they are tightly marking the opposing break-out players. If they happen to catch a pass, they will probably lose it, or be forced to dump it in--if they don't lose it first.

And that was the crux of the system. It not only sought to disrupt the opposition's flow coming into the zone (which has been a defensive hockey goal from day one), but to take it a step further and possibly prevent the dump-in; to create a turnover in the neutral zone.

I have no doubt that Lemaire must have used this ploy under Bowman--or possibly even Toe Blake in the '60s. The Habs were famous for "team defense", as they routinely led the NHL in fewest goals so many times. They also did it with a number of interchangeable goalies, who nearly always faced the fewest shots in the league.

And that, folks, is a hallmark of the Devils all these years: Limit the shots and you limit the goals. Ridiculously simple, right? Brodeur deserves every bit of the credit he's finally getting for being an all-time great, but he'd be the first to tell you that his team makes it infinitely easier. I've been watching the Devils for years, and sub-20-shot games happen a lot around there.

So, the "trap" and the many versions of it that have now spawned have always been around. They just came back into fashion in the mid-90s, as coaches sought a new edge.

As for using the word "blame" when talking about it. Since when should a team that uses a sensible and effective strategem be "blamed" for it, or have to apologize for it? Teams that compete in a league are never responsible for the "style" of play; they only know they have to win.

It's up to other teams to adjust and react to the ploy, and try to beat it. As the history of sports tells us, this always happens. New strategies, no matter how effective at first, always get moved aside as others find ways to counter them.

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01-13-2008, 12:13 AM
  #8
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Hockey is one of the most self critical sports with respect to rules and team systems. In the 1970's fans were critical of goon hockey and dump and chase. In the 1980's it was goal inflation, loose defense and wooden goaltending. In the 1990's with an other round of major expansion the "trap" was the culprit blamed for producing yawning snooze fest hockey. The issue of the new millennium seems to be entertainment value and marquee value however that is defined.
The neutral zone trap works well for a disciplined team without a great deal of offensive talent. During the 90's offensive talent became fairly evenly dispersed thoughout the NHL and even a player who managed 25-30 goals a year commanded a salary premium. Anyone remember Chris Gratton and Bill Guerin? The high intensity fore check looked so out of place. The goaltenders got better and the defense men got bigger and meaner and the scoring summaries got skinnier.
The reality is that in the NHL it is coaching to win, not coaching to develop offensive skills.

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01-13-2008, 08:11 AM
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Didn't Minnesota in 1991 play a style where they put 4 guys on the blueline, force the other team to dump it in, and then hold up the opponents at the blueline, daring the refs to call interference(which they knew they wouldn't do lest they be accused of starting "a parade to the penalty box")? I seem to recall their apearance in the finals had a lot to do with a defensive system(trap? not a trap?), as it certainly wasn't their offensive prowess.

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01-13-2008, 04:36 PM
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yuck! I try hard not to think of "the trap" JAcque lemaire and single handedly IMO DESTOYEd the NHL's chance to take advantage of the 90's baseball lockout and jordan leaving the NBA. HOckey became populated by big bodied poor skaters (primeau) who's only job was to choke the life out of the game. EVERY team/player's stats went down at least 20percent! No creativity what so ever as the slick players were shut out in favor of 6ft 4 brhrmoths who's job was to hunt down and hit eric lindros all day. Worst coach and human being in the history of the game!

whew... now I got that out of my system!

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01-13-2008, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefan75 View Post
Didn't Minnesota in 1991 play a style where they put 4 guys on the blueline, force the other team to dump it in, and then hold up the opponents at the blueline, daring the refs to call interference(which they knew they wouldn't do lest they be accused of starting "a parade to the penalty box")? I seem to recall their apearance in the finals had a lot to do with a defensive system(trap? not a trap?), as it certainly wasn't their offensive prowess.
True, teams began using the trap (speaking strictly about the "dead puck era", of course) in the early 90s, and by '94 there was a handful of them around, boasting tremendous playoff success (the previously mentioned Devils bowing out to NYR in 7). Chicago and Jersey made defensive hockey famous in the 95 playoffs, as did Florida in 96. By 97 the vast majority of teams around the league were using it.

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01-13-2008, 05:41 PM
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I seem to recall their apearance in the finals had a lot to do with a defensive system(trap? not a trap?), as it certainly wasn't their offensive prowess.
Frankly, it had a lot to do with a still young Ed Belfour crapping the bed.

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01-13-2008, 05:54 PM
  #13
WheatiesHockey
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Success always breeds imitation in anything. Couple that with the rapid expansion policy of Bettmans 90's NHL and we have the "trap". Great offensive talent is always at a premium and many teams coming into the NHL simply could not produce even a top level line. It is also true that it is much easier to play solid team defense than it is to wait for young players to develop offensive capabilities. Weaker teams could be competitive by holding and slowing the game down to a crawl. The end result was goal scoring dropped, the game got slower and a 20 goal scorer became a highly desirable commodity. Go back to 1973-74 season and Dave Schultz scored 20 goals and 16 assists. In 76-77 Don Saleski scored 22 goals and 16 assists. Those players were considered at best third line goons in their era. Not many of the goons in the NHL today could dream of those numbers. Even solid mid career pros had trouble producing those numbers in the 90's and if they did, their salaries were likely in the $2 million dollar range.
For better or worse the trap produced what coaches and GM's wanted...WINS. It really isn't up to a coach to mull over the entertainment value of his hockey team or if his team is playing the game at the highest level possible.

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01-13-2008, 07:15 PM
  #14
TheDevilMadeMe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by backliner View Post
Honestly, I've never understood the modern fuss over this. For one thing, no one coach or team of today can claim to have "invented" it, least of all the Devils. But in '95, we were coming off an extended offensive era, and the Devs had just missed the Cup final in '94 to the Rangers by the narrowest of margins (2OT in Game 7). They knew they were very close, but needed a way to maximize a brilliant young goalie (Brodeur), a really solid D corps, but forwards of modest offensive talent.

So Lemaire instilled a more regimented system of flooding the neutral zone with bodies while simultaneously forcing a hasty play out of the opposing puck carrier by swinging pressure his way. Rather than get pinched with the puck in his own end, he throws it toward center ice, where Devils are waiting. Or at least, they are tightly marking the opposing break-out players. If they happen to catch a pass, they will probably lose it, or be forced to dump it in--if they don't lose it first.

And that was the crux of the system. It not only sought to disrupt the opposition's flow coming into the zone (which has been a defensive hockey goal from day one), but to take it a step further and possibly prevent the dump-in; to create a turnover in the neutral zone.

I have no doubt that Lemaire must have used this ploy under Bowman--or possibly even Toe Blake in the '60s. The Habs were famous for "team defense", as they routinely led the NHL in fewest goals so many times. They also did it with a number of interchangeable goalies, who nearly always faced the fewest shots in the league.

And that, folks, is a hallmark of the Devils all these years: Limit the shots and you limit the goals. Ridiculously simple, right? Brodeur deserves every bit of the credit he's finally getting for being an all-time great, but he'd be the first to tell you that his team makes it infinitely easier. I've been watching the Devils for years, and sub-20-shot games happen a lot around there.

So, the "trap" and the many versions of it that have now spawned have always been around. They just came back into fashion in the mid-90s, as coaches sought a new edge.

As for using the word "blame" when talking about it. Since when should a team that uses a sensible and effective strategem be "blamed" for it, or have to apologize for it? Teams that compete in a league are never responsible for the "style" of play; they only know they have to win.

It's up to other teams to adjust and react to the ploy, and try to beat it. As the history of sports tells us, this always happens. New strategies, no matter how effective at first, always get moved aside as others find ways to counter them.
I agree with everything you said, but the bolded statement. Sub 20 games don't happen anymore on the Devils - Brodeur regularly sees 30+ shots a game now. That's what happens when you lose your top 4 dmen in a short period of time.

As for the trap, Lemaire made it clear that he brought it to NJ from Montreal. I am not sure if it existed before the 1970s Montreal teams.

Funny thing about "the trap" is that it was original conceived as a way to increase offense. Trap the other team in the neutral zone, force a turnover and go the other way to score. The trap really only dramatically limits offense when BOTH teams trap. Then it's a back and forth cat and mouse game, where nothing really happens.

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01-13-2008, 07:17 PM
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yuck! I try hard not to think of "the trap" JAcque lemaire and single handedly IMO DESTOYEd the NHL's chance to take advantage of the 90's baseball lockout and jordan leaving the NBA. HOckey became populated by big bodied poor skaters (primeau) who's only job was to choke the life out of the game. EVERY team/player's stats went down at least 20percent! No creativity what so ever as the slick players were shut out in favor of 6ft 4 brhrmoths who's job was to hunt down and hit eric lindros all day. Worst coach and human being in the history of the game!

whew... now I got that out of my system!
Is this even English?

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01-13-2008, 08:02 PM
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There are creative elements to the trap and it certainly fits into the talent level of many teams. The trap is even used by many swift skating European teams. One has to factor in that Europeans play hockey on a much larger ice surface and overly aggressive fore checking could potentially leave forwards grossly out positioned. On the smaller North American ice surfaces the trap produces deadly dull hockey.
The truth of the matter is that a "well played" game of hockey is actually a boring event. No mistakes, a 1-0 score with the one goal scored in the third period on a two man power play.

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01-13-2008, 08:02 PM
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Man, even this thread is boring

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01-13-2008, 08:14 PM
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If Bettman had a turds worth of leadership skills he could easily have foreseen how boring this style of play was and just as easily eliminated it early with rules changes. (Like what they've been attempting now.)

But Bettmen has no leadership skills - beyond making sure he gets a paycheck and the rest is history for the NHL.

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01-13-2008, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by SheroWorship View Post
If Bettman had a turds worth of leadership skills he could easily have foreseen how boring this style of play was and just as easily eliminated it early with rules changes. (Like what they've been attempting now.)

But Bettmen has no leadership skills - beyond making sure he gets a paycheck and the rest is history for the NHL.
Explain how they could have eliminated it with rule changes?

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01-13-2008, 09:03 PM
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It would be wrong to personalise the argument too much and put the blame all on Bettman. Bettman came from the NBA which enjoyed enormous growth during the decade of the 1980's. Many of the NHL owners believed that the magical growth of the NBA would be mirrored by the NHL and Bettman would lead the way. Things did not work out as planned.
The expansion Florida Panthers trapped their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Jersey Devils enjoy underwhelming support locally and managed to trap their way to some success. Jacques Martin helped make the Ottawa Senators a credible contender with the trap during his tenure with the Sens. Lemaire has made the Wild into contenders through the trap.
Maybe there is a difference between boring hockey and winning hockey or have the the two become one?

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01-17-2008, 06:09 PM
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Explain how they could have eliminated it with rule changes?
I agree with what you are saying. "Rule changes" were not what was necessary. Frankly, other than the instigator rule, I don't know that any rules came in during Bettman's term. There was an increased focus on trying to reduce fighting, but there wasn't any rule changes other than the aforementioned instigator rule.

What was needed was for the refs to blow the whistle. Like in the criminal law world, it's not new rules that are necessary, just enforcement of the existing ones. What happened was coaches and players decided to try to take advantage of the refs' unwillingness to direct a "parade to the penalty box." So players would just say "lemme see if I can get away with this". Therefore, instead of a guy going off for 2 minutes for holding up a guy without the puck(interference), it was allowed to go on. Can't catch the guy in front of you with the puck? Reel him in, it's ok. Hooking isn't really hooking if it's all in good fun. Had the refs had the guts to put 4 guys in one team's box at one time for something other than a brawl(and watch any game fm that era and there's at least one point in the game where 4 guys have committed pretty egregious penalties according to the rule book), that would have gone away quite quickly, as coaches wouldn't have kept up being 2 men down all the time.

The only real rule thing the league missed(not sure it would have been a change), is not part of this discussion: keeping goalie pads at 8 inches.

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