OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) The Ottawa Senators have suspended Randy Lee, the assistant general manager facing a harassment charge from an incident during the NHL’s pre-draft scouting combine.
Lee is charged with second-degree harassment after allegedly making lewd comments and rubbing the shoulders of a 19-year-old male hotel shuttle driver in Buffalo, New York, on May 30. He has pled not guilty and is due in court on July 6.
General manager Pierre Dorion announced the suspension in a statement Friday. Dorion said the suspension is effective immediately and applies to work with the Senators as well as the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Belleville, Ontario.
The move comes a week before the NHL draft in Dallas.
”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 behavior,” Dorion said in the statement. ”Harassment in any form is unacceptable, whether it occurs inside or outside the work place.”
Lee’s attorney, Paul Cambria, said he had no comment in a text to The Associated Press.
Dorion said the Senators are unaware of any previous complaints against Lee, and that Lee is entitled to due process and the right to address the allegation in court.
”That said, the questions that must be answered by Randy are unlikely to be addressed until his next court date … we believe the best way to live our values and enforce our standards of behavior is to suspend Randy Lee until the allegations against him are ruled upon by the courts,” Dorion said.
Lee is responsible for prospect development with Ottawa and oversees the Belleville teams. Ottawa has the fourth- and 22nd-overall pick at the upcoming draft.
The Senators missed the playoffs after reaching the Eastern Conference final in 2016-17, and have been even more of a mess recently with a litany of public relations headaches.
Earlier this week, it emerged that the wife of Senators captain Erik Karlsson filed an order of protection in May against the fiancee of one of his teammates, alleging harassment and cyberbullying.
Melinda Karlsson alleged that Monika Caryk, the longtime partner of Senators forward Mike Hoffman, posted hundreds of derogatory online messages aimed at her and her husband, including trolling messages following the death of their infant son. Caryk has denied the allegations.
Meanwhile, former captain and fan favorite Daniel Alfredsson was quoted saying at an event in Ottawa he hopes the Senators are sold to an owner other than Eugene Melnyk to ensure their future in the nation’s capital.