Bad rep a bad rap?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Robbie Schremp has a rep.

"Bad attitude. Bad this. Bad that," he defines it himself.

This, he says, is where he hopes to lose it.

The Edmonton Oilers first-round draft pick who was sent back to junior to light up the league with the London Knights is surrounded by high profile players on Team USA, tournament favourites here at the 2005 World Juniors.

When this is all over, Schremp swears, people will see the rep about bad attitude, bad this and bad that, is a bad rap.

The rep started when he asked to be traded from the Mississauga Ice Dogs and it has dogged him since. There were suggestions at last year's World Juniors that the American dressing room was divided and that Schremp, who has yet to meet a microphone he didn't like, was one of the problems.

U.S. coach Walt Kyle didn't take the job wearing a blindfold. He knew the hockey world believed that the team he had to worry the most about was his own.

And he knew Robbie Schremp - the scoring star of an OHL team drafted by a Canadian NHL franchise - would be under the microscope.

"Going into camp, I'd heard a lot about him," said Kyle. "My experience with the kid, so far, has been good. Around us, he's been really humble. His talent is phenomenal. And in terms of our preparation, he has totally bought in.

'POSITIVE THINGS'

"All I heard from (the Oilers) were pretty positive things about him," added Kyle, who coached the Edmonton farm club in Hamilton for two years. "But I knew there were a lot of other things out there. And there probably were issues involving maturity.

"I think he's very fortunate he ended up being drafted by Edmonton. He'll really benefit by having guys like Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish teaching him to be a pro and to be a champion. He couldn't have been drafted by a better organization."

Schremp, who returned to junior and scored 78 points (32 goals, 46 assists) in 27 games to lead the OHL in scoring, says he's here on a mission.

"I'm here to work hard and follow the system. I'm here to be a leader and show what I can do. The Edmonton Oilers don't think I have an attitude problem.

"Just because I asked for a trade in junior doesn't mean I'm a spoiled brat."

HIGH-PROFILE STARS

On a team with the projected No. 1 choice in the coming draft, Phil Kessel, and other high-profile players such as Ray Bourque's son Chris, Schremp says this can be a special team.

"When you play on a team in Canada you understand how Canadians follow this tournament. Especially when it's being held in Canada. It's not that big of a deal in the States. But here, it's huge."

All the pressure is on Canada. Even if the Americans win this, it won't cause a ripple down in Bellingham or anywhere else in the U.S.

Schremp says the key is to use it and have all the talent come together and be a team.

"Nobody cares who does what," he says of how many goals or assists any individual gets.

He says there's no battle of egos between he and Kessel.

"He's one of the best guys I've met for how talented he is. He's not an outspoken guy like myself. He's kind of shy. He hasn't had the media coverage."

Shy doesn't bring on controversy. Schremp has a little bit of Jeremy Roenick in him.

"I'm honest," he said. "If you don't want honest answers, don't ask the questions."

Canada's David Bolland, who plays on a line with Schremp in London, says he expects big things for his linemate in the next 10 days.

"This should be a big tournament for him."

He adds that he believes the Oilers returning Schremp to junior will be something he'll appreciate one day, if he doesn't now.

"I think another year in junior is really helping him out. Yeah, it was good for him."

Schremp almost reluctantly admits it now.

"Obviously, I wasn't thrilled about it. But it's worked out for the best."

Even better with a gold medal.


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