I still can remember where I was when the Brian Lee selection was announced. In what was an annual ritual I was down in Wasaga Beach with some friends celebrating the August long weekend with a steady state of inebriation. Between drinks and visits to the beach, a number of us found the time to cram around a 15″ hotel television and watch the 2005 NHL Entry Draft unfold. And why wouldn’t we? After a lockout cancelled the 2004-05 season, the Entry Draft was the first NHL event that we had access to in over a year.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have been that excited to see the Senators make their first round selection. After years of shrewd drafting and player development, Ottawa had become somewhat of a perennial Stanley Cup Contender. Had the lockout never have happened, the Senators would have selected late in the first round. Fortunately for us, the NHL wanted to help boost its image and marketability following lockout by using a weighted lottery to give every organization an opportunity to draft Sidney Crosby with the first overall pick.
So when the ping pong balls dropped Ottawa had somehow lucked itself into the 9th overall selection in the draft. It was a coup! (Or at least, it should have been.)
“And with the 9th overall selection, the Ottawa Senators select from the University of North Dakota, Brian Lee.“
It could have been the booze, but my immediate reaction to Lee’s selection was one of indifference. All I had to go on was Pierre McGuire lauding the pick as a smart one because Lee would eventually succeed Wade Redden as a coveted puck moving defenceman.
Five years later, Lee’s only a successor to Redden in the sense that he’s the latest blueliner to leave town while Sens fans applaud slowly.
Yes, even though I’m probably the last Senators site to acknowledge it – the Brian Lee era in Ottawa appears to have drawn to a close. Some will rejoice and remember this day as the one in which Ottawa finally rid itself of Lee. Others will use it as an opportunity to shit all over the shortcomings or failures of the John Muckler era and sing the praises of those draft picks who followed Lee in the ’05 Draft. As easy and deserved as that may be, today’s also a day in which we should recognized that the organization failed in regards to its asset management. It shouldn’t have taken this organization five years to rid itself of a player who never fell into favour with the current brain-trust.
Even though Bruce Garrioch has already tweeted (@SunGarrioch) that Lee will likely pass through waivers unclaimed, one can hope for his sake (and ours!) that someone will take a chance on him.