A clean slate for Schremp?

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

Pretty much the entire Edmonton Oilers organization is coming down with selective amnesia this summer. Or, trying to, anyway.

From top to bottom, from Edmonton to Springfield, from ice level to the front office, the whole playoff-missing coach-firing, shoulder-shrugging lot of them want to forget about last season as quickly as possible.

Rob Schremp is no different. Neither was his year.

In a winter of widespread discontent that saw the Falcons and Oilers stumble miserably, costing Jeff Truitt and Craig MacTavish their jobs, Schremp did little to stand out. His seven goals and 42 points in 69 games represents a significant step backward for the former first-round draft pick (25th overall in 2004), who plans on spending his summer dreaming about tomorrow rather than reliving the nightmares of yesterday.

"It was a bad year for everybody," said the 22-year-old forward, who endured a 24-44-8 season in Springfield.

"We were last place in the league. There were maybe one or two guys who could say they had great years. We all kind of struggled together. It was a tough year for everybody.

"Jeff Truitt got the worst of it. He's a good guy. It was hard for him and it was hard for us to know that we let our coach down. It was a bad year for everybody."

They're saying the same thing in Edmonton after a year-long swoon that necessitated a change at their own helm. Most of Edmonton's forwards regressed as players, too. The difference is that most of them have NHL track records and one-way contracts that say you shouldn't give up on them. Schremp still has to prove himself the first time.

"It would be nice, obviously, if I'd been playing in the NHL the last couple of years, but this is what the organization wanted to do with me, develop me in Springfield," he said. "So that's that path you have to take. Hopefully I'm on track to play in the NHL next year."

Like the rest of the players who'll attend training camp, Schremp, if he's still Oilers property in September, will start with a clean slate. A new coach means a new start for a guy who could never find a way to win his coach's confidence.

MacTavish called up everybody but the Falcons mascot before giving Schremp a chance. And when he finally did in early December, he sent him right back down after three points and a plus-2 rating in four games.

"I knew when I got called up that Robert Nilsson was going to be back in two weeks," he said. "I knew that was my window of opportunity so I did what I could with it. They were playing well and making a playoff run, so it's hard to play around with your lineup then."

Still, it was a painful demotion, leading to Internet white noise about Schremp, whose game tailed off when he returned to Springfield, becoming so frustrated that he was exploring his options in Europe.

"I haven't even considered that," he said. "I'm only 22."

And he's not using MacTavish as a crutch or built-in excuse. He doesn't think the coach's decisions over the last four seasons were based on anything personal and isn't automatically assuming that a new bench boss changes anything.

"Hopefully it's a new opportunity, but I think the organization has had my best interests in mind since I've been drafted. It's not just MacTavish, it's the whole organization that has to make plays with my career, they want to develop me and make sure I'm ready.

"Hopefully next year is the year I make it. I hope that's what the plan is."

But Schremp is realistic enough to know that his future depends more on what he does this summer and next fall than who Steve Tambellini selects to operate the whistle.

"I don't know what MacTavish not being there is going to mean. He's a great coach.

"I'm not really sure what to expect. All I can do is train, make sure I come to camp in the best shape and we'll see what happens from there."


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