Earlier this week, former NHL-er Rob Schremp announced his retirement after playing 12 years in both North America and Europe.
Two of his five NHL seasons were in blue and orange with the New York Islanders.
When Schremp first came to the Isles before the start of the 2009-2010 season, he described the chance as “different”. Different for him, because 1. he was changing his home from Edmonton to Long Island, and 2. finally getting an opportunity to show what he was made of.
“I was just very fortunate and very grateful,” Schremp said over the phone when Nyislesblog.com chatted with him back in September. Schremp, 32, was wallowing with the Oilers for over three years after they drafted him with the 25th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, only playing in seven games total. “Getting the chance on Long Island was really a fresh start. It was very good for me at that time.”
Claimed off waivers in late September — September 29th to be exact — Schremp was on the opening night roster nine days later.
Schremp would notch 44 games that season and amass 25 points, but it was his flare with the puck that made him go from a bit of an unknown to recognizable name. Funny thing was Schremp had been well-versed in his creativity with the puck from when he was lighting it up in juniors with the London Knights from 2003 to 2006.
“It was very gratifying in some sense,” Schremp spoke of his point total from that year. “I know 25 points isn’t a million points, having to wait because there wasn’t much room for a top two-line center. They had what they thought were good pieces. And that’s how it was because there was competition for that spot.”
Some of that competition Schremp alluded to were Josh Bailey, Doug Weight, and Richard Park. The kid in front of Schremp and those four, number one pick John Tavares. Schremp when he did get his shot, made the most of it.
“I kind of just ran with it,” he recalled. “Playing with Blake Comeau and Jon Sim, we actually turned out to be a pretty good solid line for the team. We produced on a nightly basis.
“It was fun to have success at the NHL level no matter what. Being a point-per-game line the last 20 games, it’s not easy and something I was definitely proud of.”
Schremp, other than his success with Comeau and Sim on the so called third line, had a few highlights from that first year with the team.
He scored his first NHL goal in early December against the Boston Bruins. He scored one of the most memorable goals in Colorado where he baseball-bated the puck into the net. And he put goalies on notice with his filthy shootout attempts.
Even with the hard times the Isles were going through when he was in the fold, Schremp loved the guys he got to associate with.
“Andy Sutton was one of my favorites,” Schremp said laughing. “He’s a big teddy bear. There were a lot of good guys in that locker room.
“Dougie Weight. Rick DiPietro. When he wasn’t rehabbing, he would come see the boys. But the list goes on. Mark Eaton. Mark Streit was awesome. Really great people. The character as far people away from hockey were great.”
Schremp returned to the Islanders for the 2010-11 season, this time producing the best stats of his short NHL career. Posting 22 points in 45 games, surprisingly Schremp was placed on waivers in late February. He was quickly picked up by the Atlanta Thrashers. He would finish the season with the Thrashers before making his way to Europe that same summer. For the next several years, Schremp played all over Europe before eventually returning to the States to play with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.
Returning to Europe, Schremp played two more years. His last known appearances were with EC Red Bull Salzburg of the EBEL.
Schremp really enjoyed being around Weight as not just a player, but as a friend. The history he built as a player, Schremp found it a pleasure to get to play on a line with him for a while.
“He wasn’t just a veteran, he was a legend,” added Schremp.
Two things in particular that brought Schremp to constant laughter about his time with the Islanders: The goal song dilemma and Zenon Konopka.
Schremp described Konopka as a “beauty” (hockey term) for all the fun stuff he did away from the ice to bring teammates together to bond.
“The team had the marketing stuff they picked out, and Z was like ‘no the players want this’. It wasn’t like a serious conflict, but it was a comical one.
“The radio guy was like no we’re not changing the song, and Zenon was like ‘yes we are’. We had a vote and we all had to pick our song. Stuff like that was funny.”
Schremp’s two years with the Islanders saw a lot of shortcomings from a team perspective. Two straight losing seasons, a coaching change, and a forgettable 14-game losing streak; but from an individual perspective, nothing took away Schremp appreciating playing in the pros.
Now making his home in Naples, FL, Schremp looks back on his stint with the Isles and takes away more of the positives than negatives.
“I wish I made Long Island my home longer, but I really enjoyed my times there with the fans,” he said. “The good interactions, from the hospital visits, to autograph signings, the people were great.”