Toronto Maple Leafs: Rob Schremp finds no support for John Tavares criticism

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 16: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on February 16, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 16: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on February 16, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Rob Schremp attempts to explain himself after receiving no support from other ex-teammates of Toronto Maple Leafs’ centre John Tavares.

Since signing his seven-year, $77 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, John Tavares has lived up to expectations. In fact, you can argue that he has exceeded those expectations.

With 63 points in 59 games, Tavares is on course to beat his previous high of 86 points during the 2014-15 season. Statistics aside, he has inspired the other Leafs players with his overall skill, work ethic and leadership.

As such, when his former Islanders’ teammate Rob Schremp criticized him at the weekend, it surprised a lot of people. Replying to a tweet from NBC Sports, he wrote:

"The ultimate “ I did my job “ kind of superstar. He wins when he goes to play for his country as they are loaded with players mostly equal or better. Other than that, he just collects HIS points and HIS awards."

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Schremp was referring to a graphic from NBC Sports, which showed how much better the New York Islanders have performed compared to last season, without Tavares. However, while there is no denying the improvement from the Islanders, the comments still seem off base.

If there is any truth to this, why are we only hearing about it now? Further, it doesn’t appear as if Schremp is receiving any support from Tavares’ other former teammates, now that it has been brought up.

Consider the comments of Thomas Hickey, who played with Tavares for six seasons in New York. As reported by Sportsnet‘s Eric Francis, Hickey said:

"“It’s silly to me. I’ve told this story before. The year John lost the scoring title by one point, in a meaningless play about halfway through the year I shot it and it looked like Johnny tipped it. He got credit for it. After the game he said, ‘I’m going to change that, I didn’t touch it — that was your point.’“He ended up losing the scoring title by one point, and my point totals don’t really matter. He’s a good teammate. For anyone to say he’s selfish, they’re just misguided. Maybe they’re looking for a headline.”"

There have been some suggestion that Schremp is jealous, after all the success Tavares has enjoyed. The centre was a first round draft pick himself, but he never lived up to expectations.

This shouldn’t be seen as a criticism per se, given that Schremp still achieved more in hockey than any fan could ever hope for. And yet — as per Hickey’s comments — you do have to wonder if he is trying to stay relevant, after retiring last November.

Matt Martin is another player who doesn’t understand the criticism. The former Leaf played with Tavares for seven seasons in New York and shared his thoughts with Francis:

"“He was by no means a bad leader or a bad teammate — I think he was a good captain, led by example, played hard every night and really cared about the organization and the team…He was never negative in any way. He just came and worked hard.”"

Whether it be a case of worrying about being perceived negatively and/or another attempt to remain relevant, Schremp spoke to 590 The Fan on Monday, to attempt to clarify his comments. As per Sportsnet, he said:

"“Johnny is still a great player in his own right. He’s an amazing goalscorer, he’s had great accolades. The tweet really went viral, I never thought I had that power. I actually very really bad. Johnny is a very private person, I never really thought it would blow up like this. He’s probably shocked by this…it’s not the attention I meant to bring.“It wasn’t always Johnny’s fault though. That’s the kind of place where he was set up that way, where there was a lot of pressure on him to do what he had to do, but I just see a little bit of a difference in a player of Johnny’s calibre and a Sidney Crosby.”"

During the interview you could tell Schremp was nervous, which would seem to confirm his realisation about the can of worms he had opened. He is right in saying Tavares isn’t on the same level as Crosby, but hardly anyone is.

In fairness to the 32-year-old, he acknowledged his NHL career didn’t go as planned. He referenced his battles with depression and anxiety, while also sharing how happy he is with his life and family.

Schremp did add that he was sticking to his opinion — for the most part. However, he did stress again how bad he felt for Tavares and apologised.

It’s tough to dislike Schremp after listening to his interview. However, to think his comments wouldn’t get traction in hockey-crazed Toronto is either naive or unbelievable.

Overall, we can safely assume no real damage has been done to Tavares. He’s offered no comment as of yet, but in truth, his best response is to continue letting his performances do the talking for him.

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What’s your take on Schremp’s original comments about Tavares? Is the retired centre attempting to stay relevant, is there something to what he said, or do you have another opinion altogether? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.