SUN Hockey Pool

Schremp shrugs it off

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minnesota -- Better late than never.

And in the case of Rob Schremp, better late than early, too.

While some of the unenlightened Oilers fans were clamouring for Edmonton to keep him on the roster out of training camp, or, at the very least, call him up a long time ago, the shifty winger realizes now it would have been a big mistake.

"It was a bit of a struggle at first, making the adjustment to pro hockey," said Schremp, who's joining the Oilers on emergency recall and is expected to be in the lineup tonight against Minnesota.

"To be honest, I understand now that if I would have been called up before, I probably wouldn't have deserved it. Let's face it, I haven't exactly been blowing up the charts."

But in the months since being assigned to AHL Wilkes-Barre, Schremp has made significant strides as a pro. He's fourth in scoring on Wilkes-Barre with 16 goals and 34 assists in 67 games, along with 67 PIMs and a plus-2 rating.

"The coaches helped me out a lot, helped me settle down and be more reliable," said Schremp, Edmonton's second pick, 25th overall, in 2004. "Todd Richards is a good coach down here. He makes you accountable for everything you do.

"I think it's probably a good thing that I've been here all year. It's helped me to become a better pro. I still have a ways to go, my game isn't all the way there yet, but it's improving."

That's all the Oilers wanted to see.

"I've heard his game is really good, that his professionalism has taken a 180-degree turn," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "He's working at his game, putting the work in in the gym, he's embracing the video and knows that there's work to be done in his game - and we can see the results in his game already.

"It's part of the process that we envisioned for him all along. Like we've talked about with a lot of players, failure is the biggest motivator and he's had some of that this year (in getting cut in training camp and struggling early in the AHL). He's a smart player and realizes there's work to be done and he's put the work in."

MacTavish says he's glad the message is getting through.

"The one thing I wanted to make sure of with Robbie is we didn't give him anything. With all players you don't want them to think they're ahead of the level that they're at, otherwise you lose the drive and the desire to improve upon what you have.

"He had to earn everything, and he's done that in the minds of the coaches in Wilkes-Barre, so it's time for him to get a look up here."

Needless to say, he's pumped.

"Very excited," said Schremp. "It should be good. It's obviously been a dream of mine to play in the NHL so to be called up is pretty cool."

The Oilers needed an emergency recall because Petr Sykora is bothered by a bad hip and Shawn Horcoff is hurting as well. It's possible neither will be able to make it to the post tonight.


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