Randy Lee Speaks – On Promotion To AGM

 
Like Pierre Dorion, Randy Lee, one of the Ottawa Senators' two Assistant General Managers made an apperance on TSN 1200 to discuss his appointment and his new roles and responsibilities.
 
To listen to the full interview, click here or you can stream it via the embedded audio at the bottom of the page. 
 

On how the process evolved over the past week…

“Well even before that, we were really supportive of Tim (Murray) and we thought that it was a great opportunity for him. When you get a chance to be considered for a GM job, we thought it was great and well deserved. I think Bryan (Murray) reached out to us at some point saying, ‘If this goes through, and (Tim) is successful and gets the (Sabres) job, this is what I would like to do. Are you guys receptive to that?’ Pierre and I said, ‘Yep, we’re very receptive’ and then he just asked us to put down a few ideas about how do we sort of divvy up the job and we presented it to him and I guess, he had to take that to Mr. Melnyk and present it as his plan.”

On where he’s come from and his ascent up the ladder…

“Well, yeah, it happened a long time ago. 19 years ago when I used to work in junior with Alain Vigneault – back when I was a conditioning coach when I was just doing my Masters degree for the Hull Olympiques back then. And when Alain was working then with the mighty Ottawa Senators as part of Rick Bowness’ staff, EJ Maguire left to go take a job in major junior because he wanted to be a head coach back for Guelph. And Alain said, ‘Would you like to meet Rick Bowness? Would you like to get back into hockey?’ I said, ‘Not really, no, but I’ll go just for you.’ And I went to meet Rick and I was so impressed with Rick and he sort of inspired, so I went to talk to my wife and my family and said, ‘What do you think about this?’ They said, ‘Well, try it for a couple of years and see if you like it and do two years, and then you can say you worked in the NHL.’ Well, that was 19 years ago and it’s sort of evolved from then in a number of different positions. And I’ve always tried to be really loyal to the organization. (I) work very hard. I appreciate coming to work every day because you work in the National Hockey League in your hometown, so you’re very special to have that opportunity. I think it’s sort of evolved with a lot of different general managers and coaches, so I’ve got to meet some amazing people and make a lot of great friends. And anytime there was a regime change, my philosophy was to go to the head guy and say, ‘Look, it’s within your opportunity here. If you want to replace me or you want your own guys, I completely understand that.’ You don’t want to be inherited. You don’t want to be sort of a hangover guy. They don’t have to absorb you. I really believe that they should have a choice to keep you or not. Even when Bryan (Murray) came onboard, the first thing I said to him was, ‘If you want your own people, go ahead and do that and I’ll completely understand.’

On how the strength and coordination position helped him for his current job…

“I think it’s perfect for the player development job. I think a lot of player development guys are ex-players and that’s great and they have special attributes, but I think when you’ve come from that background and you’ve worked with guys all your life and you have sort of been that guy to help them transition to make those big steps to go from either major junior or college hockey into the American Hockey League or the NHL, that you’re a better fit to make sure that they can do it down the road. I think a lot of the skillset from a strength and conditioning coach has really helped me be an effective player development guy.”

On his relationship with Pierre Dorion and sharing the responsibilities…

“A lot of teams do have two Assistant GMs. A lot of teams have that and some teams have more. The position has evolved because it has evolved. I mean, with the cap era and with all of the different responsibilities, a lot of teams have a lot of guys… sometimes they call them ‘Two Assistant GMs’ or ‘Assistants to the General Manager’. We have one of the smaller staffs in the NHL, to be very honest. And working with Tim, and Pierre and myself has been great. We’ve always worked off each other. We work off each other’s strengths. We support each other. So basically, with Tim moving on, it’s just a matter of Pierre and I sorting out our responsibilities and we’re very fortunate in this organization. We have a lot of good, young people that are ready for a challenge to take on more roles and bigger challenges, and that’s where I think we’re going to go forward and be very strong.”

On how much Cody Ceci matured and developed over the past 18 months…

“Well, I think as Paul MacLean has said in some of his interviews, that there were some concerns watching Cody play when he was with the 67s. He wasn’t playing very well, the team was struggling and he wasn’t responding and it’s nobody’s fault, but two things had to happen and that was:

Consensus from our management group that we thought, we liked guys staying at their home. But we think for Cody, it was good to go out of his home. It was the first time that he had been away from his home.

Get to another organization that was going to be playoff bound, so it could put him in a better challenge position. We were very fortunate that Cody really embraced that challenge. He went on to Owen Sound and had a chance to work with a guy named Drew Bannister – who we knew from our Binghamton days as a player. He was the son-in-law of a guy named Mike Buzniak, but we knew he was going to be a top-end coach. Then he had a chance to work with Luke Richardson and now he gets a chance to work with Luke and Jason Smith while he’s in Ottawa. And I think Cody’s game has come 180 degrees. He is a much more effective player. I think people were surprised at how well he’s made that transition and we project, just like we do with stocks and wine and when they’re going to mature. We didn’t think it was going to be this quick for Cody, but give the kid credit. He’s embraced the opportunity to work with guys like Drew, Luke and Jason and he’s become a much more well-rounded player and he’s been a big asset to our team.”

On the scouting process, talent projections and how much confidence he has in his staff’s ability to help develop players and get them to that level…

“Yeah, we definitely do (have confidence), but the scouting responsibilities fall within Pierre and Pierre’s staff (department). I don’t scout. They do the amateur scouting and they acquire the asset and once they become our asset, I take over and I follow them from there. So it’s a very distinct process, but definitely we look at that. We look at where we can project them to be. We look at how much upside they have. And we also, it’s not just from a conditioning side, we look at every part of a person – about their personality, how they respond, and how mature they are. The biggest thing that Bryan (Murray) has challenged us to do is not just find guys that we think can project out to be NHL players, but he has challenged us even tougher to say, ‘Can these guys perform in the playoffs? Can these guys elevate their game when challenged to perform in the playoffs?’ Because that’s a big distinction – some guys are great regular season players and then once the playoffs come, they turn into Houdini and disappear. We want guys who can step up their game and perform in the playoffs. I think one great example of that is Curtis Lazar. During the World Juniors, this kid stepped up his game and was a real dominant player and a real impact guy. And he’s a guy that we project to be that type of guy – a guy that can step up and elevate his game in the playoffs.”

On how refreshing it was to hear that the organization would like to gun for a Stanley Cup in the next two years…

“Well, I mean everybody in this league has to be striving for the Stanley Cup. We all appreciate that. I was part of Bryan’s coaching staff when we were three wins away and once you get that taste, it’s very special. I mean, during the presentation of the Cup in Anaheim, I stood on the bench with Greg Carvel and it made a huge impact on me to see that trophy being handed around. It was also really nice to see some of the Anaheim players come over and shake our hands out of respect. Once you see that and get a taste of it, it’s amazing. And I think that we’re all committed to that. I mean, I’ve committed almost 20 years of my life to this organization and I want to win. We all want to win and we all know how hard it is to win in this league. But, at least when you’ve got the support of ownership and Bryan is a deserving guy. Bryan deserves to win a Stanley Cup. He’s done so much for this game and so much for this community that that’s sort of more motivation for us to even work that much harder.”

On what his main duties are as GM of the Binghamton Senators…

“It’s really just transitioning more to see day-to-day operations. Before, I was always down there. I still evaluate the players. I still oversaw all of their training and development and nutrition workshops. I still did all the day-to-day work that way, but a bit more working with Luke and Steve (Stirling) to make sure that we’re projecting the roster for next year. More advice into who we’re going to sign, what players we’re going to keep or not keep. We still work as a group. All management teams work that way, but it’s just more day-to-day operations that way.”

 

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