After every game that the Canadian team has played at this world junior tournament, Barry Trapp has waited downstairs in the Metro Centre to shake the hands of the players, coaches, and Canadian Hockey executives. There have been conversations about the games on the ice, reminiscences about other games in other tournaments, and no small bit of jabbing about Trapp's windfall--more than $7,000--thanks to a victory in a 50-50 draw on the opening night in Halifax.
That big win for Trapp and the four consecutive wins on the ice for the Canadian juniors have served to make easier what is for the scout clearly a case of separation anxiety.
Trapp had been the long-time chief scout for Canadian Hockey before taking a similar post with the Toronto Maple Leafs after last season. He had worked for the National Hockey League's Central Scouting Bureau for ten years before joining the national program in 1996.
In his first winter with Canadian Hockey, Trapp was instrumental in putting together the last Canadian team to bring home gold from the world under-20 tournament, the squad that beat the U.S. in the final in Geneva in 1997.
"The last piece of work I did for the program was putting together the roster for the (juniors') summer-evaluation camp," Trapp said. "So, in that way, I still feel part of this team. I pushed for some of the players here. And over the past few years I had scouted them for the under-17 and under-18 programs. These are young men that I've gotten to know over a few years now.”
"While I'm really glad that the opportunity to work for the Leafs came up, I wish it had unfolded so that I could have stayed on with Canadian Hockey through this tournament," he continued. "It would have been great to start out with Canadian Hockey as a winner and to wind up my time with the program with a win back in Canada. But this chance to work with the Leafs wasn't going to wait for me forever."
Though five Leaf draftees are on the Canadian team's roster in Halifax, it's not only the Canadian players who interest Trapp in tournament play here. Their top draft choice from last year's draft is Swedish forward Alexander Steen, son of Winnipeg Jets legend Thomas Steen. For Trapp, it's not a case of divided loyalties but rather multiple loyalties.
"I'm watching this tournament for the Toronto Maple Leafs and wearing a jacket with the Leafs' logo on it," he said. "But underneath that jacket I'm wearing a Canadian Hockey T-shirt. That says it all right there. I want to see Alexander (Steen) do well, but when Sweden plays Canada there's no doubt about who I'm rooting for."
The national junior program has evolved significantly over the years under Trapp’s scouting stewardship. For instance, the selection process has become less tied to "the ghost roster," a slotting of players in very specific roles. "I think that we put that in perspective, not the be-all and end-all, and that's thanks to Stan Butler (coach of the last two Canadian junior squads)," Trapp said. "Stan made things so simple and he was open to all possibilities."
Trapp does see constants over the years, however. "I look back on it and I have no real explanation for it, but in putting together our under-20 and under-18 teams it always seemed that our goaltenders came from Quebec, our forwards from Ontario, and our defencemen from out west," he noted. "Of course there are exceptions--some great players who don't fit that--but the trends are obviously there."
Trapp acknowledges that his fingerprints on Canadian junior teams will eventually be wiped. On the national under-20 squad circa 2005 there will be a few players he scouted for the under-17 teams last winter but in a couple of years there will be nothing but fresh and unfamiliar faces. Yet Trapp believes his connections with the Canadian Hockey program will endure.
"There are young men who I've stayed in touch with over the years," he said. "It was unbelievable the number of e-mails and phone calls I got from former world junior players when I got the Leafs job. Young men like Tyler Bouck and Brian Campbell were calling me, just too many to mention."
After the gold medal ceremony in Geneva, a tearful Trapp told reporters that the 1997 world juniors was the first championship team he had ever been involved with, his first big win. Though he's wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jacket, Trapp might be more than a little misty if the Canadian juniors can win gold as some sort of send-off for the scout. That would be his second big win--or third if you're counting the 50-50 draw.