In the early evening of Aug. 21, the Ottawa Senators announced that Randy Lee had resigned from the organization. Lee’s resignation came amid allegations of second-degree harassment.
The incident allegedly occurred on May 30, 2018, while Lee was in Buffalo for the annual NHL Scouting Combine. He was arrested the next day and has since pleaded not guilty to two harassment charges involving a 19-year-old male shuttle driver. The team suspended Lee in mid-June.
Lee formerly held the positions of assistant general manager in Ottawa and general manager of Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, the Belleville Senators.
Career With Senators
Lee, 56, spent 23 years with the Senators. According to his biography on the Senator’s website before its removal, Lee started as the team’s video coach for his first two seasons. He then progressed into a dual role of video and conditioning coach for the next five. After that, he became the Senator’s new conditioning and player development coach for the next six seasons. Lee then was promoted to the director of player development for one season before taking on an additional role as director of hockey operations. He would maintain both positions for more than four seasons. On January 13, 2014, Lee accepted his most recent positions as the assistant general manager in Ottawa and general manager for Belleville.
Lee’s departure forfeits his opportunity to develop players in the Senators’ system like Daniel Alfredsson, Marian Hossa, Jason Spezza, Zdeno Chara, Martin Havlat, Erik Karlsson, and Mark Stone. Lee’s intimate knowledge about the players and the team’s development system will challenge management to find an effective replacement.
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Lee’s absence is one less distraction for the Senators as they focus on the immediate priorities of training camp and pre-season. The Senators are eager to sustain a strong start in 2018-19. Last year, the Senators started 8-3-5 but went 1-10-2 in their next 13 games. They never seriously contended after mid-December.
The Senators now have an opportunity to bring on an assistant general manager who can focus entirely on the team’s season. Where the Senators will source an assistant general manager and who the possible candidates are is unknown. A solid start in the regular season would reassure the Senators’ fan base and rebuild confidence in and around the franchise.
Mere months after the Senators were one goal away from the Stanley Cup finals and weeks before the start of a new season, the hockey club reduced the total number of seats at the Canadian Tire Centre from 18,500 to 17,000. Driven by hopes of increasing season ticket demand, the move backfired by giving merit to the false idea that the team’s fan base is diminishing.
At a town hall meeting hosted by Senators owner, chief executive officer, and governor Eugene Melnyk last season, Melnyk said the Senators intend to reopen the tarp-covered seats this year.