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Ottawa Senators suspend B-Sens GM, pending outcome of court case in Buffalo

By w88Việt nam Paul Svoboda, The Intelligencer

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

No coach. Now, no GM.

Already without a head coach, the Belleville Senators are now minus a GM after the parent Ottawa Senators announced on the weekend they'd suspended Randy Lee indefinitely.

Late last month, Lee was charged with harassment in Buffalo and is scheduled to appear in court there again on Friday, July 6 on a non-criminal violation charge. The alleged incident involved Lee and a hotel shuttle bus driver.

At the conclusion of their inaugural 2017-18 AHL season in Belleville, the Senators opted not to renew the contract of head coach Kurt Kleinendorst. At that time, Lee announced the search was on for a replacement.

Now what?

Meanwhile, in a statement from the Senators, Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion said:

"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 standard of behaviour.

"Harassment in any form is unacceptable, whether it occurs inside or outside the workplace. 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.

"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.”

Lee, who played a key role in the relocation of the B-Sens to Belleville last season after 15 years in Binghamton, NY, can have no contact with the AHL club here or the parent team in Ottawa until the matter is dealt with in the courts. He will not attend the NHL draft in Dallas next weekend.

Lee, 56, was originally charged with harassment of a 19-year-old hotel shuttle bus driver on May 30 in Buffalo and spent one night in jail before his first court appearance. He was in Buffalo to attend an NHL pre-draft combine.

Lee allegedly made lewd comments and offered to massage parts of the driver's body, according to the charge. He pleaded not guilty on June 4.

If found guilty, Lee would face a maximum fine of $250 and up to 15 days behind bars. He has not commented on the incident since the arrest.

Postmedia is reporting that Senators and B-Sens owner, Eugene Melnyk, has hired highly-regarded defence lawyer Paul J. Cambria to defend Lee. Cambria said he is “confident it's just a misunderstanding and we hope to resolve it.”

Buffalo district attorney, John Flynn, is on the record as saying Lee must answer for “uncool behaviour.”

B-Sens finished tied for 14th in the 15-team AHL Eastern Conference last season with 63 points in 76 games. Only the Laval Rocket, top farm club of the Montreal Canadiens, collected fewer points (58) than Belleville and the Binghamton Devils.

B-Sens have missed the Calder Cup playoffs for four straight seasons and have not won a post-season series since they captured the AHL title in 2011. Kleinendorst was head coach.

In their inaugural season at a refurbished Yardmen Arena, the B-Sens were hit hard by injuries and frequent call-ups by the parent Ottawa Senators. Seventeen B-Sens players were summoned by Ottawa for at least one NHL game during the 2017-18 campaign.

B-Sens' average home attendance at Yardmen Arena was 3,600 per game in a facility that now seats 4,400.

Around the 'A'

Toronto Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe could be a hot property after guiding the Toronto Maple Leafs top farm club to its first Calder Cup title in franchise history.

History suggests winning a Calder Cup is a springboard to almost immediate NHL employment. Thirteen of the past 19 AHL playoff championship-winning head coaches have gone on to become NHL bench bosses. Barry Trotz, head coach of the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, was a Calder Cup winner in 1994.

Dallas Eakins, who took the Marlies to the 2012 Calder Cup final, told The Canadian Press he's not sure claiming an AHL title “is a clear path” to the NHL, but he said “winning never hurts.”

Keefe, a 37-year-old Brampton native and former OHLer, opted not to comment on his future — in the NHL or elsewhere — after Toronto's historic Calder Cup victory over the Texas Stars in an exciting AHL final that went the seven-game limit.

After Game 7 last Thursday, in a CP interview, he said: “I'm gonna party my butt off tonight and not think about anything else beyond that.”

Need to know: Keefe spent his rookie junior season with the former Quinte (Deseronto) Hawks. He scored 21 goals and totalled 44 points in 44 games during the 1996-97 season. He went on to play in the OHL for St. Mike's (now Niagara) and Barrie. Keefe, a forward, appeared in 125 career NHL games with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Prior to joining the Marlies three years ago, he coached in the CCHL with Pembroke and the OHL with the Soo.



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