The Senators released a statement this evening indicating that assistant general manager Randy Lee has been suspended by the organization effective immediately.
Per the release:
OTTAWA – Senators’ general manager Pierre Dorion has issued the following statement on assistant general manager Randy Lee:
“As our hockey club’s initial statement made clear, our Hockey Team – and our organization as a whole – will always hold our leaders, coaching staff, players and employees to the highest standards of behaviour.
Harassment in any form is unacceptable, whether it occurs inside or outside the work place. As a result, and with all the care and caution required in such cases, we have spent the past two weeks listening carefully to, and consulting with our community, our fan base and our partners to understand their expectations on the matter.
At the same time, we have worked with authorities in Buffalo, as well as with Randy Lee’s lawyer, to ensure that Randy be granted the due process to which he is entitled. Until now, the Senators had never been made aware of a complaint against Randy, whether before or during his 23-year career with the team. He must be allowed to address the allegations against him through the court system.
That said, the questions that must be answered by Randy are unlikely to be addressed until his next court date – on July 6, 2018 – we believe the best way to live our values and enforce our standards of behaviour is to suspend Randy Lee until the allegations against him are ruled upon by the courts.
The suspension is effective immediately and applies both to Lee’s work with the Ottawa Senators and our AHL team in Belleville.”
That the organization chose to release the news and bury it in the weekend news cycle is intriguing for a number of reasons.
Obviously sexual harassment and the alleged behavior of Lee is disturbing and the organization would like nothing more than to put the league-wide negative attention that this and the Karlsson/Hoffman incident in the rearview mirror.
The organization made the right choice by suspending Lee until a verdict or plea has been rendered, but they should not be applauded for arriving at a sensible decision 15 days after Lee’s arrest.
Their unwillingness to suspend Lee immediately pending an investigation was a botched layup.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that the Senators arrived at a conclusion that many had hoped for. I just wished the organization went one step further to own their mistake and apologize for not arriving at this conclusion sooner.
There are a few other items worth mentioning. The release not only states that no other complaints have been lodged against Lee in his 23-years of employment with the Senators, but that Lee will not fulfill any of his assistant general manager duties or obligations during the course of his suspension.
It would be incredibly easy for this organization to suspend Lee as part of some paper announcement — where the Senators officially announce his suspension while simultaneously allowing him to continue to work behind the scenes without anyone being the wiser.
If the Senators hold true to their word however, Lee’s absence will leave Pierre Dorion incredibly short-staffed.
Just one year ago, the general manager had Lee, Daniel Alfredsson and Bryan Murray to lean on, now he’s alone.
Despite his claims to the contrary, it’s the byproduct of an owner who has alienated personnel and refuses to pump the money the hockey operations department. Without replacing any of these key figures, Dorion’s isolated on an island trying to figure out the best way to move forward.
Under normal circumstances, maybe things wouldn’t be so bad, but Dorion has to explore every Erik Karlsson contract extension/trade scenario, maximize Mike Hoffman’s trade value, manage the NHL Draft and the start of NHL and AHL free agency without his assistant general manager.
Pierre Dorion seems like a pretty damn good scout, but considering the circumstances and the owner and budget that he was to work with, it’s easy to wonder whether he’s in over his head.