When Sheldon Rempal got the call from Ontario GM Richard Seeley that he’d be getting called up to the LA Kings, all the pieces were in place for a seamless transition across Toyota Sports Center to the parent club’s dressing room.
There was one hold-up, though. Rempal couldn’t track down his parents to share the good news. His dad didn’t pick up the phone – “he let me hang for 15 minutes,” the junior Rempal said – nor did his mother. Texts were sent. Eventually he was able to connect with both, as well as his brother, and there was a celebration of a major life milestone.
“Obviously it was pretty cool getting the phone call yesterday, this early in the season,” he said. “I was pretty ecstatic. I really couldn’t sit down throughout the day. I was pretty fired up, just walking around the house taking phone calls from my family.”
Not all players will let outsiders into their psyche as they comprehend from all angles that their name has been added to an NHL roster, but Rempal was reflective and open when sharing the raw emotions crisscrossing through his head.
“After getting that phone call yesterday, it kind of goes through your head, just to think back through your whole life,” he said. “Obviously, I think I was a little bit of a late bloomer, so a little bit of a longer path for myself. So, just looking back on the whole ride throughout my hockey career and the ups and downs and the way it’s led to this point. I’m extremely excited. Hopefully we’ll get the call for tomorrow.”
Judging by the lines at Wednesday’s practice, there’s a good chance of that. He skated opposite Jaret Anderson-Dolan on Nate Thompson’s line and wasn’t slotted as an extra, so he very well may make his debut against the New York Islanders at Staples Center on Thursday (7:30 p.m. / FOX Sports West / FOX Sports app / LA Kings Audio Network). Should he play, he’ll be expected to continue to bring the same game that appealed to the Kings, who signed him out of Clarkson University after his sophomore year, and the Ontario Reign, with whom he totaled four goals and eight points through his first four AHL games.
“He’s obviously played really well down there. I think he’s been really competitive,” John Stevens said. “I think they describe him using the word ‘dynamic,’ and he’s put up numbers down there right away. He came into training camp, it was a lot to take in as a pro, but I think he’s really used that as a reference point. Went down there and accelerated his game in a hurry. I thought he looked good in practice today. Played with really good pace, really good skill and he had really good confidence, so it was good to see.”
Rempal doesn’t possess an elite shot but does have a stealthy and often unexpected release that works in concert with a shiftiness on his skates as a willingness to go to the places on the ice where goals are scored.
“I thought Rempal was a threat every time he was on the ice,” Ontario Head Coach Mike Stothers said of Rempal’s two weekend games, as reported by Reign Insider. “… He’s very creative, he’s kind of dynamic with the way he skates around and handles the puck and clearly he’s able to shoot from what everybody thinks are difficult angles and finds a way for the puck to go in.”
Sheldon Rempal, on opening the season with the Reign:
It’s been good to go down there. Obviously I was disappointed getting sent down that early out of camp, but I tried to have a good attitude about it and work hard for the coach down there. Obviously had some nice success early, but it’s still early. Hopefully after getting this call I can show something and stay.
Rempal, on familiarity with fellow Calgarians Austin Wagner and Jaret Anderson-Dolan:
I knew of Austin. I remember playing against him a few times, but we never really knew each other too much. I think we grew up on the opposite ends of the city. Actually just met him and JAD, as well. … It’s kind of funny how there’s so many Calgary guys in the organization.
Lead photo via Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images