Can the Knicks Save Themselves?

Can the Knicks Save Themselves?

Ass.

There may not have been a better set up team in recent history than the New York Knicks. Not in ownership. That guy is a fucking idiot. But in opportunity? The Knicks may be able to turn a corner, and awfully fast.

What’s the genesis of such a thought? There are four, actually. In no specific order of importance:

  • New team President
  • Upcoming new Head Coach
  • 7 first round picks in the next 4 years, including a guaranteed lottery pick
  • Salary cap flexibility lacking long term deals

First off, the Knicks made a move to add a team leader, which considering the results of the last few leadership groups have been nothing. Not nothing but underwhelming. No, nothing, Absolute zero. Zilch.

But we should look at the sunshine that is behind the dark clouds of this disaster of a franchise run by a micromanaging douche who walked into family money and makes maybe the most compelling argument ever that the inheritance tax is too forgiving. And if Dolan can just keep from being Dolan, there is still a silver lining.

Let’s start with the new Team President, Leon Rose. Rose is a successful player agent, which is a growing trend both inside and outside of the NBA. After all, who can value players while seeing through bullshit inflation better than an agent? Especially in a time where a decrease in the NBA salary cap is expected? So Rose is clearly on board to attract names and to change a culture that looks like a train parking lot carnival, which a $4 billion franchise frankly should not resemble on any level. And a guy known working with players in a time when the cap is decreasing may be able to use his cap space asset now to acquire bad deals from winning teams in return for future assets from winning teams, or to burn off the remaining bad Knick contracts.

Luckily, Rose has a roster that has nothing but short term deal. Only one player is under contract three years from now. And their only buyout will also be burned out by then. So really when it comes to flexibility, outside of the Julius Randle contract- a guy who was almost traded- there is no major money in the Knicks near term future. And Randle may be moved next season if the Knicks are just as bad as the last two seasons.

The choice of General Manager for Rose’s is crucial. Dolan has been a headline grabber for the Knicks when it comes to acquiring mostly washed up names for futures or for burnt draft picks- come on, who from the Carmelo Anthony trade with Denver do you want back? But the GM will be running the draft, and this is a team that should be building through the draft hardcore. Here’s why.

Rose’s GM will have two first round picks in 2020. One WILL be in the lottery. He will have two first round picks in 2021. One will PROBABLY be in the lottery. Add to it that the one from 2019 was in the lottery. That’s three consecutive lottery picks. That should be a core.

Uh oh…

But wait, there’s more. In 2022? One first round pick SO FAR. But in 2023? Two more first round picks. That is 7 first rounders in 4 years in a sport with a 12 man roster. Which gets to the next GM question or two:

Are Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett players you build a team around? Are they parts of a team you build with? Or are they trade bait for different assets?

Let’s start with the veteran Knox. Much like free agent signing Alonzo Trier, Knox has taken a step back with decreased minutes in a year where he should have been playing. But Fizzdale, knowing he was coaching for his career, was absolutely going with his best odds, and not the odds of the franchise. A lot of coaches on the hot seat do that, giving the finger to the fans.

Know inarguable had a huge year over year decline in production. Also, his per minute play was stagnant. Maybe it’s why you don’t draft players as freshmen unless they were dominant in college, as their games are undeveloped. But that creates a different quandary- Is Kevin Knox tradable?

His stats say no. Not for a first round pick, which is the only way to salvage him. Maybe for an expiring, overblown contract with a sweetener. But one on one? Knox will get you nothing, so it’s best to burn a year to blow him up as a focal point of offense, and to create a market for his game. And ideally to ensure another lottery pick in 2021.

Untradeable today

Which brings us to Barrett. Barrett shows flashes of being a well rounded player. But the guy can’t shoot a free throw. I absolutely wait a year or two on Barrett before making a decision, because contractually you can- he has the longest term contract on the team. But also? He seems to fill in what isn’t going on. If he developes a free throw and a 30+% three point shot? He could be a swing piece at shooting guard and small forward that would be worth 36 minutes a night, at a fair price.

But today? Barrett looks like a part, not a whole.

Maybe the biggest deal for the Knicks is a new head coach. You need a coach that will be able to develop but also manage pro egos. I wrote about such here but be sure that you can not underestimate the importance of who the next head coach is. I am happy that David Blatt is in the organization, because in his head coaching career he has been nothing but a winner. Ideally he has input in finding the next Blatt. And let’s not forget it was Blatt who ended the Cav’s franchise titleless streak, not the other guy they fired after.

The takeaway? This will be the best chance for the Knicks to make moves for the next decade. They will need to draft very well in 2020. They will need to consider moving their bad deals in the same year. They can maybe pull off two 1st round picks 4 years in a row with a Randle trade. That along with cap flexibility would be absolute firepower.

They also maybe have to consider changing coaches two years from now, from a developmental coach to a pro coach. Or maybe they find a guy that can do both. No matter how it breaks down, the Knicks are entering a crucial time in the next few weeks, one that will define this franchise for the next decade. Which can either make the Knicks super interesting, or save the Knicks fans plenty of time from having to watch horrible basketball games.

Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Tournament

Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Tournament

I have to give my buddy @AmazingInsights credit for this concept, as anyone who follows his twitter knows his disdain for Josh Bailey. The question he often asks is “How many games does Bailey take off?” He even mentioned the title of the Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Tournament…which with the postponement of the season, I saw it as a challenge to create. So thank you Corona, for making this idea a reality.

OF FUCKING NOTHING!

First off, we needed criteria. What is a night off? And we needed a point system to assess it. The point system came from this- when you screwed up, you were assessed points toward a score. And when you do something good? You get credits against those points. Allow me to present the following:

Points per game:

Zero shots on goal (2)

Zero hits (1)

GWG (-2)

Goals (-1)

The breakdown?

Zero shots on goal is the worst offense you can have if you’re trying to win games. If you don’t shoot at goal, you can not win games. Pretty simple so it’s worth two.

Zero hits in a game? You aren’t physically involved. I understand that there will be discrepancies for such in top 6 and bottom 6 players, so luckily I am only including the top 6.

Game winning goals? A misleading stat, as you may have scored 5 in the first and held on for a 5-4 win. Not a stat of clutch, but a stat saying we scored more than them and this one mattered….as much as the rest of them, just one more.

And goals. The ultimate measure of scoring. Without goals, there are no assists. Without assists? There are still goals.  

Basically, the hockey version of baseballs’ three true outcomes- a walk, a strike out or a home run. Things a defensive player just sort of watches.

Final formula? (Zero shots on goal X2 plus zero hits in an entire game – Game Winning goals X2 plus total goals). That’s the Uselessness Quotient. The higher the number, the more useless you are.

You may have noticed that I did not include assists. You may be wondering why. If you are a Bailey fanatic, you may say that this is biased and on purpose. And I would say yes and yes, except not for why you think.

The bias for including assists for players is that Bailey bias where you talk about total points. I get it. Gretzky had what, 11 seasons with 100 assists? Surely they matter, right? Except Gretzky made Marty McSorley- known for nearly killing a guy on the ice- an annual 11 goal scorer despite 250 minutes a season in penalty minutes. 11 goals per Gretzky season is just 2 why of what Bailey averages.

Untradable

And the “Bailey Boner” that is half a point a game? McSorley did that with Gretzky in 1992-93 on the way to a Stanley Cup finals that the Islanders should have won while racking up 399 regular season penalty minutes. I wish there were capitals for numbers. That’s almost 7 whole games worth of penalty minutes on a season. Also? McSorley was a plus that season, unlike Bailey in his swan song 71 point season. But, assists!

And I’m not counting the Jari Kurri’s and Paul Coffeys of the Gretzky universe, as you’re about to see.

So ask yourself this- who has Bailey made a scorer? It seems everyone prospers without Bailey once you account for removing Tavares from that same line. So I don’t account for assists because they’re Bailey biased, which gets to the on purpose part. Bailey never made Anders Lee as good a scorer as Ryan Strome did, so its unfair to use that against him. Why?

Dollar for dollar better?

Because an assist does not exist without a goal. So any player getting an assist has a minimum of two other factors involved- another guy shooting, and a goalie missing. And maybe a defenseman missing, so maybe three other factors. Oh, and also it could be a secondary assist, so four other factors. Oh oh, and then a forward may have not backchecked, so five other factors. Or a guy took your pass and shot it off a defenseman’s ass and it luckily angled into the net, so six other factors. You see where this is going, no? In short, there is almost nothing in your control when you get an assist.

Also scored against empty nets

Also, a player may make a great, needle threading pass to a guy on the goalie’s doorstep, just to watch him shoot in into the boards, so we won’t count assists because that’s not a passive players fault either.

So with that, lets set parameters. We aren’t going to count guys that aren’t regulars, because I don’t want to do math for everyone. Cya Keifer Bellows and Tom Khunackl, whose name I will never spell correctly. Also, if you are injured, we aren’t going to prorate you. Also also, forwards will be exclusive to this study….maybe. With that, let us analyze who has taken the most games off!

Here are the contenders at Bailey’s Hide and Seek Tournament:

Mathew Barzal                                                  Brock Nelson

Anders Lee                                                         Josh Bailey

Jordan Eberle                                                     Anthony Beauvilier

Derick Brassard

And for shits and giggles:

Ryan Pulock                                                        Devin Toews                                      Nick Leddy

Based on our scoring system, here are the totals, I have to admit, based on manpower stats- things you can do with your own hands productively- they’re surprising:

Player (In order of Best to Worst)                                              Uselessness Score

Anders Lee                                                                                         5

Brock Nelson                                                                                     12

Anthony Beauvilier                                                                          13

Ryan Pulock                                                                                        18

Jordan Eberle                                                                                     28

Derick Brassard                                                                                 37

Nick Leddy                                                                                          38

Mathew Barzal                                                                                  38. Uh oh.

Devin Toews                                                                                      42

JOSH BAILEY                                                                                       63

“I SUCKKKKKKKKKKK”

Just to remind everyone how we got these scores: (Games w no shots X2 plus games w no hits – game winnings goals X2 plus goals).

No shot and no hits are damning. That Nick Leddy- a player many Islander fans call useless, even Beth- has the same uselessness score as the elite Mathew Barzal shows why Barry Trotz sat his ass so much last season.

But it’s hard to ignore the Josh Bailey number. Brassard was almost twice more useful. Lee was more than 12 times more useful.

How did Bailey get there? Easy. 14 goals are a lot by Bailey standards, especially considering that the season was abbreviated. It’s less than half of his 31 goal pace from November 6 2019, or 21 goal pace from December 1 2019, but he was angling at maybe 17 with a hot hand, which would be just about a career year for Bailey goals…assuming he got 3 more. There’s also a good chance he ended the season with 15, in top 6 minutes and top line power play time. Want to know why?

Bailey led the team with 14 games without a shot on goal. In 68 games. That’s a game with no shots on goal percentage of 21%. One out of 5. So in the last 14 games? We can expect 3 without a shot on goal. So to hit 17 he’s need 3 in 11 games, when his average this season was a goal every 5 games. And take away empty net goals? Ouch. 15 was the limit.

No Kool Aid, it doesn’t count

Only two other forwards and one of the defensemen had double digit games with no shots on goal:  Derick Brassard (13) and Anthony Beauvilier (10). We all know how streaky Beau is, which is why he makes around $2 million. And Brassard less.  

The Barzal number was also surprising. Barzal shoots more than ever, but he does not make contact. He avoided contact in 51 of 68 games, compared with Baileys 53 in 68. Bailey takes 78% of games off from physical contact; Barzal a little less. No one is even close to those guys. Even softie Brock Nelson hits about half of his games. Best forward for initiating contact? Brassard, followed by Beau- 3rd liners that floated north on occasion.

And defensemen without grit? Toews. Just saying, when you think of that next contract, think a young Thomas Hickey without the goal scoring touch.

Also? Leddy is totally tradable. He’s a right handed defenseman which is a hot NHL commodity. Time to sell, yo!

Airing his mule

Understand that before I started this exercise, I did not cherry pick these stats with a predetermined end result in mind. I chose stats that someone can control with their own hands. You can choose to shoot or not. You can choose to hit or not. You can score goals or not- usually an indicator of shooting. And you can be clutch or not, which was the only one I was on the fence about weight on, until I saw how many times a player is credited a game winner versus how few we recall happening. But then end result?

Josh Bailey wins the first annual Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Championship! In a blowout! If you added in contract value via cap hit per production? Bailey’s production is worth $84m of the 2019-2020 salary cap. Basically, Bailey has the production of a person versus a carnival barker, or against the house in Vegas.

I invite any fan to use my formula to go over Bailey’s history as an Islander and see if this is a one off…or a career trend. I have my inklings, and they’re that Bailey is a bigger hide and seek dynasty than the one he’s producing with his wife. Or as we often say, more of the same Bailey. Let us know.

Over-Rated!
Pete Rose Time

Pete Rose Time

So since all sports have wisely shit themselves and postponed their seasons, we have a bunch of topics to discuss that really avoid attention once the regular seasons begin. I’m going to touch on as many as time permits, but I plan on starting with the most important one:

It’s time to put Pete Rose in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I can go over his resume, for those that are young and not too familiar with the guy nicknamed “Charlie Hustle” because he’s always play hard, even down to running out his walks. In fact, let me point out a few highlights of a 24 year career:

  • 7x led league in hits
  • 5x led league in doubles
  • 4x led league in runs
  • 3x led league in batting average
  • 2x led league in on base percentage
  • ALL TIME LEADER IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL FOR:
    • Games played (3652)
    • Plate Appearances (15890)
    • At Bats (14053)
    • HITS (4256)

So you might be saying- all time leader in hits AND plate appearances? Sounds like a compiler. I can see why you’d say that. But it’s not common for a compiler to do the following:

  • Rookie of the Year
  • 17x all star
  • A Silver Slugger at age 40
  • 13x top ten in batting average
  • An All Star at 3rd base, 2nd base, 1st base, left field, and right field. Wow.
  • 2 gold gloves as an outfielder, then switched to being an infielder
  • Career .321 hitter in the postseason
  • World Series MVP in 1975 for an on base percentage of .485 WITHOUT using a garbage can
  • MVP votes in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s
  • 3 World Series in 6 appearances

Nobody is getting more hits. OK, some would make that the point that Ichiro had more hits. But we have to be fair- Ichiro played a large part of his career facing pitching that is subpar to MLB. In American baseball? Ichiro was not a productive player after age 36. He only hit better than .280 twice over his final NINE seasons. Rose? Over his final 9 seasons, he hit .300 or better three times, and added two more .280 plus seasons, including a season where he hit .365 after a late season trade. At 43. At age 43? Ichiro managed 59 more career hits. Rose? 262. Rose had a batting of .262 in his last 3 seasons to Ichiros 241, except Rose managed 1016 at bats over those 3 years to Ichiro’s 245.

Already washed up

I’m not picking on Ichiro. He is a Baseball Hall of Famer. But so is Pete Rose.

Here are players Baseball Reference compare careerwise to Pete Rose:

Ty Cobb

Paul Molitor

Tris Speaker

Robin Yount

Paul Waner

George Brett

Cap Anson

Derek Jeter

Lou Brock

Johnny Damon

NINE of those guys are hall of famers. Ty Cobb was an asshole, even for his day. And he was a first ballot Hall of Famer. Damon’s name is interesting on that list, and may be a discussion on day about does Johnny Damon belong in Cooperstown. My opinion? Close…but no cigar.

“Sliding”

Now, we all know the reason Rose isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame- he gambled on baseball, and then lied about it.

OF COURSE he lied about it. It wasn’t allowed. But…it wasn’t performance enhancing, either. And there is NO evidence that Rose ever bet AGAINST his team….which is extremely arrogant. He just expected to win every time he bet? Which you could argue is an attempt at compensation for a guy ending a career with one $1 million payday in 1986- the only season where he had a 7 figure income- whereas many other players were making millions a season around him that accomplished a lot less. He may have been bitter over not being part of the money era, which only got crazier in later years.

But to ban a guy forever over an issue that wasn’t cheating? Today, baseball lets gambling happen. Rose was a pioneer, not a martyr.

Yes, he lied about his involvement. Sometimes lying is an expected behavior. It’s probably why baseball included a clause for reinstatement in Rose’s ban. Look, in the last two impeachments of presidents? One lied about getting a blow job. One lied about a pandemic. They’ll still both have presidential libraries, both likely filled with issues of Playboy.

Nice flow…

And as far MLB’s hard stand on Rose? Rose’s name is already in the Hall of Fame, in case you have never visited. There’s a list of hit leaders in baseball- Rose is at the top of the list. There’s Reds and Phillies memorabilia from their championship teams. The Cincinnati Reds inducted Rose into their team Hall of Fame. The Phillies almost did the same in 2017 until 1970 called an alleged Me Too into the Age of Unreason, where the good of the many is apparently outweighed by the allegation of just one person from 50 years ago.

One Small Step for Rose…

Companies have policies where they hang individuals out to dry, like Apple did with Steve jobs or some editor did to Walt Disney because his cartoons sucked. Both of those guys ended up having names and careers bigger than their industry. Today, people have a stroke over a guy with 3000 career hits. It’s a benchmark that just about guarantees entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. So what if a guy had, 30% more than that? Rose’s name is like Jobs or Disney- iconic in their field.

And baseball? After the bungling of the Houston Astros cheating like a bunch of scumbags scandal? You have no legs to stand on when it comes to morals. Sure, you’ll ban chewing tobacco, but you won’t ban gambling. Unless it happened before you figured out how to profit off of it, right? So its time to get off of your not so high horse and do something that’s right for the fans, and for the game.

If SHE’s ok with him…

We aren’t asking a guy that cheated on the field to get in. Shit, that won’t even get you suspended. But to ban a guy forever for what you presently do? You’re showing your true colors as a sport, and those colors are all just green in the end.

Houston, You Have an Integrity Problem

Houston, You Have an Integrity Problem

There has been a scandal in baseball so large that it actually has historical implications. Not the superlative overblown nonsense that people spew over every day events. No, this is actual big time stuff.

In case you haven’t been following, the Houston Astros 2017 World Championship series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers was won in part by cheating ferociously. How ferociously? Let me provide some examples:

Player At Home Away
Alex Bregman .273 .154
Carlos Correa .371 .211
Jose Altuve .472 .143
Brian McCann .300 .037

You can maybe argue that the adrenaline in Bregman’s and Correa’s systems may have elevated their averages. But almost doubled it? Against the same pitchers? Nonsense.

Worse are the next two. Altuve hit his body weight on the road during the playoffs. At home? He was on base one out of every two at bats.

And McCann? Three times out of ten at home, three times out of 100 on the road. The difference of a power of ten.

The league acted swiftly- they took 15 months to fine a team 2 draft picks and the salary of a relief pitcher with a 6.34 ERA. But why is the league so gun shy to deliver some actual punishment to the players? We all know the answer- money. And that wheel has already began spinning.

Mikey doesn’t like it…

There is a relief pitcher from the Toronto Blue Jays – Mike Bolsinger- who is suing the Astros for ending his career. I’d imagine more pitchers sue that had their ERA bloated by cheating, only to enter arbitration or free agency having had a dozen runs handed to them underhandedly and their salaries diminish as a result.

But it shouldn’t end there. If I were a season ticket holder for the Astros? And was sold a season ticket package for 2018 for the World Series Champs at of course bloated prices? I’d want that money back. If I were an advertiser being associated with a team that sold me an overpriced billboard because they just came off of an ill begotten World Series? And now I look like a dick? Sue, baby, sue.

Oh, and not just those organizations. Ii I were a Yankees fan, I’d sue for the value of 7 World Series games I didn’t get to watch because my team was cheated. And for Altuve’s helmet, to use as a hamster wheel.

If I were a Dodger fan? I’d sue Major League Baseball for negligence and malpractice. And for having to hear the name A.J. Hinch years after they lost to that nobody.

Right now, the organization looking like even bigger choads than the Astros is Major League Baseball itself. Understand that nearly 90 years old Pete Rose is forever banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame for lying and gambling. I looked that up during commercials for Vegas Insider and Sportsbook, two organizations that let me….wait for it….wait….BET ON FUCKING BASEBALL. It’s the same as denying Josh Gibson admittance into Yankee Stadium because he played at a time when baseball was segregated, but any other black guy can walk right in!

Oh, and the other thing Rose did? Lying? Is the league banning the Astros roster, and that douchebag Justin Verlander? Funny, Verlander always has tons of shit to talk about everything else, but he shuts the fuck up on this topic when pressed.

Hurry up and induct before she kills him!

No, MLB will not ban the Astros players. Why? Because fans pay to see players. They don’t pay to see managers, which is why 2017 Astros cheater Alex Cora lost his job in Boston- and let’s face it, the 2018 Red Sox also need a thorough investigation- and 2020 Mets future manager Carlos Beltran wasn’t even able to run a training camp even though he did like playing drums on garbage cans. “Codebreaker” – a PoewerPoint and Excel cheating “app” is worse than the Black Sox scandal. At least those guys cheated to lose because they were paid such shit that gambling money mattered. Oh, and eight of them received lifetime bans from baseball. They should have hit .472!

Fact is, fans will not turn up at Astros games if all of the players are handed 50 games plus suspensions. And losing the money in Houston would affect the revenue sharing program (socialism!) of the monopoly that is Major League Baseball. So how do we properly punish Houston while maintaining the integrity of the game? It’s a simple, two step process.

Step One- The 2017 World Series is vacated. The record books say the same as 1994. No World Series.

Step Two- Any player receiving a World Series ring has to return it to Major League Baseball.

It’s not like Houston has won a ton of World Series. They’re used to not having a title. Status quo. And for all of the lawsuits, MLB does have insurance for things like this. And ultimately, the costs will be passed on through to the fans, like every other cost- real or imagined- is.

But for the sport? Fans do not want to see steroid cheaters enshrined into the Hall of Fame, and all those guys did was juice up to hit balls farther than before. They still have to hit the balls. WITHOUT knowing what’s coming.

The Astros need to have their World Series vacated. With all of the information available at this point, it is the proper thing to do. And for the integrity of the sport? It is the right thing to do.

After the Rink? A Life.

After the Rink? A Life.

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with former New York Islander Rob Schremp. Most Islander fans are probably familiar with Schremp’s shoot out prowess or remember that insane baseball bat goal he pulled off against Colorado (did you know that he meant to do that?), but does the average fan realize that in his Islander career he averaged more than half a point a game- a better average than more touted teammates Doug Weight and Trent Hunter despite often playing with bottom 6 forwards?

Our conversation was inspired by Schremp’s decision to walk away from hockey on his own accord and start a new life and career. It struck me curious that he never re-emerged in the NHL, so I reached out to ask him how the New York native found his way to the NHL, about his path afterwards, and about life after professional sports. He was gracious enough to share his experiences and insights, which I found out was a consistent theme for his hockey career.

I’m not a big fan of directly quoting a person because people can read words the way they want despite the intent of the speaker, but Rob gave me the double challenge of having a colorful vocabulary, so whereas I’m not one to why away from saying fuck, I do try to limit my output. Thus a series of direct quotes may have alerted my bosses! However, there are studies that say people who curse are more honest than people who do not. So on that standard, Rob Schremp is one fucking honest and decent  guy.

Schremp’s path to the NHL started at a young age. His skill set progressed so rapidly that when he was 14 he made the goal of playing in the NHL. Imagine knowing what you want at 14? At 14 I was figuring out how to pump off, but Rob already had the first love of his life and was blazing a pro sports career. I suck,

By age 15 other people were taking notice of Schremp, which made him “Put all of his eggs in a basket.” His ability and his confidence made him stand out among his peers, which led to his impressive tenure in the OHL. Shremp played so well that he caught the attention of the Edmonton Oilers, who took him with the 25th pick of the 2004 NHL draft. That’s the first round, if you’re counting.

In his last year in the OHL, Schremp posted an unreal 57-88-145 in just 57 games, and another 47 points in 19 playoff games. There was another first round draft pick that played for both the London Knights and the New York Islanders, but he didn’t have stats like that in London.

Edmonton noticed, and sent Schremp to the AHL over the next few seasons, with a cup of coffee call up in three different NHL season from 2006 to 2009.

I wonder if he ever saw this?

Being in an NHL training camp was surreal for Schremp. He recalled playing against Team USA and Dallas Stars legend Mike Modano, and how Schremp initially felt it was respectful to lose a faceoff to the veteran, but then when he tried to win them? Same result. The takeaway? You have to buckle down and be better to survive in the NHL.

And when Schremp started to buckle down in the NHL- getting 3 points in 4 games with the Oilers in the 08-09 season, Edmonton unusually waived Schremp towards the end of training camp, only to be snapped up by a horrible Islanders team. And they were horrible. In the midst of drafting at 5, 1, 5, 5, and 4 over a 5 year span.

The Schremp Islander era was defined by the best offensive output of his professional career, but also a changing of the guard at coach and an interesting anecdote. Schremp shared that if a coach that has a philosophy guiding his decision making without accounting for the personnel on the team, he is pretty much bound to lose the locker room. In case you forgot some Islander history, Head Coach Scott Gordon wanted to employ an offensive philosophy of “Overspeed,” despite having players like Doug Weight and Trent Hunter as key forwards, whose qualities were more about possession and controlling the pace of the game instead of basically dumping and chasing.  

As Schremp pointed out, Gordon was fired after a 14 game losing streak. A locker room can collapse in the midst of such if they aren’t a tight bunch, but even with the tightest room, with 14 straight losses change seems inevitable. And with the Islanders keeping Gordon around after the firing? Schremp pointed out that he hadn’t experienced anything like that in his career. Islander fans take note- other organizations don’t run like the SnoWang era Islanders did. Which I guess means professionally.

This didn’t age well.

The Islanders waived Schremp to make room for some of the budding young players (umm, who?) in the organization, and he landed with the Atlanta Thrashers for their final season. Despite having a successful exit interview at seasons end, the Thrashers had an unsuccessful exit interview with the city of Atlanta and moved to Winnipeg, with Shremp finding out about a change of ownership and location via a text message from Captain Andrew Ladd. Which seems mildly unprofessional, but then again, a different team fired their coach and left him stranded outside of the bus recently, so it is not unprecedented.

One story Schremp shared that I felt was amazing that was during his time with the Islanders he personally answered his fan mail. Even if he suspected a person was posing as a child to have a picture or card autographed, he still took the time to comply with fan requests, or to interact with fans in the pre-game warm ups. While this seems to be a standard practice in the league now, it was seen as a sign of not being serious about the game on hand back then. The story reminded me of the Mets Lastings Milledge high fiving fans after hitting a game tying home run, only to be scolded by his teammates after. Sports are supported by fans- why be a dick to them?

This is fine,

In looking back at his time in the NHL, Schremp identified a problem that existed for himself and players like him versus someone coming into the league with different expectations. In his opinion, there is less pressure for a mid level offensive player coming into the NHL than there is for a guy that has historically produced points. “For a guy that can score, they except that from themselves and they’ve realized their potential that way and way to expand. I want to score and I’ve proven that I can, so that kind of mentality is predicted to translate to pro. But if you expect people to produce junior numbers you have to provide the same opportunity.”

So when you spend time giving a mid level scorer top minutes and an offensive player 12 minutes a night? You end up losing 14 games in a row.

Another statistic that is pretty remarkable from his career was that when the postseason rolled around, Schremp found another gear. Aside from his eye popping 10-37-47 in 19 games back in 2005-06, the year before he was 13-16-29 in 18 games, finishing second in postseason scoring to Corey Perry. In his entire career, he averaged 1.3 points per game in the postseason. When it was time to show up to the dance, he always showed up.

Oftentimes athletes are forced to leave the game behind due to diminished skills. They get old. They get slow. They break. Nolan Bushnell taught me that as you age after 16, you lose microseconds of reaction time. Add that over a decade, and you’re a second or so slower than your opponent.  This wasn’t the case for Schremp. In his last professional season he led his team in scoring, but lacked the passion that brought him to the game as a child, so he walked away from hockey and into something you wouldn’t expect- predictability.

This is NOT a happy face

To a person that works a 9 to 5 job at the same place every day, comes home to the same place, sees the same people, doing something different can be exhilarating. But what if you spent 15 years not having a home? Travelling from city to city living out of a suitcase? Meeting new people in every city and with each team roster you make? Spending a limited time with your family? It can wear on a person, and in this case, it did. The politics in sports can be crippling. As Schremp said “The game showed some of its ugly side to me, so I said that’s enough. I spoke w my wife and closed my own door. If you came with on offer, I wouldn’t sign it.”

Except, Schremp left the sport without a concrete plan. He was shedding the skin of his former self and becoming something new. The only goal he has was that he wanted to be able to put energy and passion into whatever he wanted to do. And he ultimately landed with a company that led to the discovery of a new passion.

Towards the end and also after his career, Schremp was dealing with depression and anxiety, and was prescribed Xanax and other meds associated with the two diagnoses. The meds were powerful, and they were taking a toll on his quality of life. Add to that the expectation of becoming a parent, and Schremp was feeling an extra wave of anxiousness. The impact of the Xanax was just not going to work with the demands of being a dad.

This IS a happy face

Towards the end of his career, Schremp came across a company called AG Health which carries a CBD product Vedaecn.com  that pretty much became a substitute and replacement for Xanax. People around him noticed the positive effects that CBD was having on Schremp, and he felt better using something more natural.

With some new found time on his hands, Schremp became a product advocate, then an ambassador, to his now self described liaison position with AG Health.  He found another passion outside of the ice.

The thing about passions is that they change over time. What you liked when you were 5 may be a part of your life forever, but if that’s the only thing in your life? You screwed up.

Let it go…

And that’s the hybrid that Schremp has created. Schremp still maintains contact with the game via video consulting. He does so to both stay involved in the game to help players and teams get better. Schremp feels that he has had excellent coaching and professional experiences in his career, and wants to pay forward what he’s learned. “I think it’s a modern way of sharing knowledge and allows me to do things like stop video and write notes, and to show people how to use their vision. The everyday grind of hockey is hard, but consulting lets me help people.”

For people interested in contacting Rob for lessons, you can reach out at 44VisionHockey.com.

The transition from pro athlete to regular guy seems to suit Schremp just fine. For instance, we had to pause our interview because he had to feed his daughter some yogurt, which was clearly the priority. He’s taken to jamming on the guitar. He’s not packing a bag 67% of the year to go somewhere else. Retirement from a sport wasn’t gut wrenching or regretful. It was a renaissance. He has found a new passion, a way to stay connected to his sport on his terms, and he absolutely sounds happy with where he is in life.

Jamming on some DMB

So here’s the final part. I met Rob about a decade ago at an Islanders fan- player meet up at a restaurant in Hempstead. As the event ended, Rob asked me to hang around. When we talked, he asked me where it was fun to hang out on Long Island, so I made some recommendations (RVC, Huntington for the record). I think we did shots, but it was a while ago, and shots aren’t always memorable. But I liked that you could speak with him, and that he was confident enough to admit that he’s in an unusual environment and needed a little direction. Or as you may say in sports, he was coachable.

So when I reached out to him for an interview, he said yes. Because as a player, he wrote fans back. I’m not a fan of athletes just because they play a game, and specifically for Schremp, how could I be? His NHL  teams weren’t exactly overachievers. What could I root for but crazy shootout skills and perseverance? But I remembered how approachable he was, and the truth is, I DID enjoy watching his shootouts. I’m a little shocked that his shootout skills should be something an NHL team uses similar to a DH in order to gain playoff points- which is probably the future of the game as presently constructed.  So as Rob Schremp has left the game, I feel that he gave the sport an insight as to how to create a roster for the future. And there’s nothing more lasting than being the game changer that redesigned a sport. If only the sport is smart enough to get it. Think about how Larry Bird shot 3 pointers in the 1980’s versus how they’re shot now for a comparison.

Professional hockey allowed a person to have a very diverse career spanning two different hemispheres, but in the process it taught him about himself and to value what life presents you when you least expect it. But what its taught us is that for a professional athlete, life doesn’t end when you hang up your skates. It’s really just beginning.