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London Knights’ Dale Hunter labels rival Kitchener Rangers’ Steve Spott a ‘trap coach’

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London Knights coach Dale Hunter (centre, OHL Images)

Now it is clear why U.S. President Barack Obama struggled in the first presidential debate on Wednesday — he did not engage Dale Hunter as a consultant earlier in the campaign when the latter was coaching the Washington Capitals.

With Hunter's London Knights and the Kitchener Rangers renewing their fierce rivalry on Friday, the coach fired a broadside at coaching counterpart Steve Spott. It might not have been meant to goad an opponent, but merely to change the channel since the Knights are facing questions about their offence after scoring just two goals in their past two losses. Why not turn it around on the other guy, see if he stumbles? Just like politics, no one really cares about the veracity of the claim.

From Ryan Pyette:

For years, the Kitchener Rangers' brand of hockey has been pressure at both ends of the ice.

That's not what Dale Hunter said his London Knights' encountered in a 2-1 loss last Friday at the Gardens.

"They played a trap," the Knights bench boss said. "He (Kitchener and Canadian world junior coach Steve Spott) is a trap coach now." (London Free Press)

This is not the first time nor the last that a high-profile major junior coach has used the T-word in reference to a rival. (Accusations of "trapping" kind of call to mind the Seinfeld when Kramer's vertically challenged actor friend Mickey is caught "heightening.") In 2010, Quebec Remparts coach-GM Patrick Roy accused former QMJHL coach Guy Boucher of suffocating the life out of the league with stifling defensive tactics.

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Kitchener Rangers coach-GM Steve Spott (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

In this case, it's especially rich because of the memory of Game 1 of last spring's Rangers-Knights conference final. Facing star Rangers defenceman Ryan Murphy, the Knights laid back at centre ice. Murphy and the Rangers stayed in their own zone for more than a minute as boos rained down from a sellout London crowd. Then-London head coach Mark Hunter spun it as respect for Murphy's ability to rush the puck.

The debacle prompted the OHL to
institute Rule 72 ("if in the opinion of the referee it is deemed that the game has come to a standstill due to no advancement of the puck, the whistle shall be blown with the resulting faceoff at centre ice with it understood that the teams are not permitted to make a line change.")

A greater Xs-and-Os mind can determine who's trapping and who's not. Neither team is in such poor straits offensive that it has to resort to it. The Rangers' strong suit of late has been producing top-end forwards such as the past two NHL rookies of the year, Jeff Skinner and Gabriel Landeskog, so it's probably not an innuendo they'll take with gentle good humour, although it can be sloughed off. Dale Hunter is seeing if accusing the Rangers of doing of what his team has been accused of will stick. It's Junior Hockey Gamesmanship 101.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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