Fresh start for Schremp

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:20 PM ET

Rotten apple. Bad egg. Problem child. Rob Schremp has heard all the descriptions about him. And worse, much much worse.

"It's perception, right?" said the Edmonton Oilers prospect centre yesterday. "One newspaper says something bad about you and the next one just picks up that article and puts their twist on it and the next thing a magazine grabs that and says, 'Schremp's a (jerk)' and then you get a bad name.

"It's all because I asked for a trade two years ago from a bad situation. I wasn't comfortable in my surroundings and somehow turned into a bad kid from it.

"But, what are you gonna do?"

Put it in the past with his performance. Though it's not that easy for the sniper drafted 25th overall in 2004.

Everywhere he'll turn, Schremp's past will be brought up. The trade demand and subsequent walk out on the Mississauga IceDogs early in the season of his draft year will be fodder.

As will his brief foray to the U.S. Development Team, which ended when he was traded from the OHL's IceDogs to the London Knights.

Of course his quick lip -- to say he'll take the torch for being a controversial quote from Jeremy Roenick is no stretch -- will catch attention.

And then there is his willingness to, as detractors say, hot dog. Case in point, his lacrosse-style shootout performance during a rookie camp game against the University of Alberta.

Schremp, who played field lacrosse as a youth, scooped the puck at the top of the circle and carried it -- waving his stick like a wand -- all the way to the net.

Another example of Schremp putting 'me' in team?

"It was a little charity thing, so I figured it was the right time," he explains. "It's a definite advantage if you can pick up the puck like that because you change the angle of your stick for the goalie."

Even Jarome Iginla -- a classy player in his right -- said he didn't mind seeing that play.

Schremp doesn't believe it's a lightning rod for debate.

"There are some people who are old-school and only think crash-and-bang hockey but it's a new era," he said. "The game's changed. There are kids eight and nine years old doing stuff with the puck I do. It's all about entertainment, with fans in the game, you have to entertain.

"If that move can be used, it would work. I think the fans would love it."

Opposing team fans may have a dislike for him but not teammates. Flames hopeful Brandon Prust spent a couple of seasons with Schremp in London and said he's simply a free spirit.

"He's got a different type of personality but I think it's pretty amusing. He gets me laughing and everybody easy going," Prust said. "He likes having fun and doing his thing. He'll say whatever comes to mind and sometimes it can make him look bad but I think he's a good kid."

Brave, too.

Schremp is donning No. 44 on his Oilers silks. That would be Chris Pronger's old number, though there won't be a case of mistaken identity.

"I didn't come into camp and ask for 44, I never would do that," he explained. "It was in my stall and I was pretty happy, I'm not gonna give it back. I've worn it since I was four years old."

Then again, maybe it's brilliant marketing. After all, there are plenty of Oilers fans who already have sweaters with No. 44 on them.

"Yeah, they can just throw a 'Schremp' on there," he quipped.

Of course, he'll have to crack the Oilers lineup to keep it.


Photos