Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lee Era Ends With Whimper

I'm not sure why this was never brought up, but with Brian Lee put on waivers today after being a healthy scratch for so long, did the young defenseman at any time get asked to go on a conditioning stint to the Binghmamton Senators? And if so, did he refuse to go (as would be his right due to his one-way contract)?

It wasn't too long ago, maybe three weeks, that assistant GM Tim Murray was on Ottawa radio and was asked if Lee could be sent down for a conditioning stint. Murray said it was definitely possible, but no one could force Lee to accept the assignment. The CBA rules seem to say that players can be sent down for a maximum of 14 days with the players consent (and with the player receiving his full salary and it also counting against the cap).

Now, with the complexity of the CBA, perhaps Lee wasn't even eligible for an assignment in the end (he hasn't been injured, just scratched), but Tim Murray at least seemed to believe it was a legitimate move at the time if Bryan Murray so chose.

Nobody has reported on this since then, to my knowledge, but logic would tell me that Lee must have been asked and decided not to go. Is there any CBA experts out there who can shed some light on this?

Regardless, being put on waivers probably means that his career with the Senators is over, at least for this season, because calling him back up would allow another team to claim him and stick the Sens with half the bill. Having a one-way deal in the minors is a bad proposition for players like Lee. It's a black hole.

In a way, it's surprising this move wasn't done a while ago. Every day Lee was on the roster ticked off money from the cap and he wasn't even the seventh defenseman. He was the eighth once Filip Kuba returned from injury and stuck behind David Hale in the pecking order. Likely Murray was just trying to get some kind of asset in return before being forced to bury him in the minors where Lee is bound to play out his two-year deal unless a team gets desperate enough to make a trade rather than wait for him to become available on waivers again.

As of this time, Lee hasn't cleared waivers yet. Maybe he does get picked up. Colorado? Minnesota?

That one-way deal is a big hindrance to both Lee and any suitors out there.


On a sad note, Hall of Fame hockey writer Jim Kelley passed away today after a fight with cancer. Anyone who took the time to read his columns regularly over the years already knows he was one of the better ones. Always had something interesting to say, and had a colourful career to say the least.

Along with Red Fisher, Roy MacGregor and Stan Fischler, Kelley was one of the writers I've always looked up to and tried to learn from.

He'll be missed .


Anonymous said...

I think that if Lee was offered a conditioning stint, we would have heard about it. Like you said, it would count against the cap, and the point of waiving him was probably cap relief.

That said, the whole episode is poor management. How on earth were we going to get anything in return for Brian Lee while he's sitting in the pressbox?

Think about all the deals that go down in today's NHL. The way it usually works, is that I'll give you one of my assets, and you give me one of yours. Or, I'll give you one of my problems, and you give me one of yours.

With the Sens slumping, Murray needs some help for the team. So he's calling around saying, I'll give you one of my problems, you give me one of your assets.

Mike Milbury and Gord Stellick aren't GMs anymore.

The thing I don't get about Murray, is that he devalues his assets, then tries to trade them. Under Muckler, Schubert was a regular on our SCF roster.

Under Murray, Schubert sits in the pressbox and is eventually lost on re-entry waivers. Why not trade the guy before you let the league know you don't want him?

When Lee clears, I think that we'll eventually lose him on re-entry.

Some smart GM will take advantage of that. He'll grab Lee, a young prospect who has already cracked the AHL all-star team, for about $450K a year for two years. He'll have a good laugh with his owner on how Melnyk is once again picking up a tab of close to $900K over two years.

Melnyk's tab on Murray's watch:

Ray Emery buyout - $2M
Heatley bonus - $4M
Schubert re-entry - $450K
Cheechoo buyout - $2.3M
Likely Lee re-entry - $900K

In total, we're going close to $10M being thrown out the window.

If Melnyk is losing money on hockey operations, I hope he looks at his GM before pointing the finger at the fans.

Unknown said...

I agree. i don't understand why Lee wasn't played like crazy in the beginning of the season and then traded. Once you sit him, it becomes obvious that your coach doesn't even believe in him - no need for other teams to scout him since his current coach presumably knows best. Of course, Murray and Cloustin may have just been bending to fan pressure since everyone on the blogosphere was screaming for Lee to be benched early in the season. That couldn't have helped either

Unknown said...

Well no one picked up Lee. I guess there was a reason he was warming the press box instead of being traded.

Anonymous said...

The reason Brian Lee wasnt being played was because when he was playing he was losing them games. This isnt to say he was the sole reason they were losing but when the best fit for him was with karlsson, hes just not going to help this team win.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 1:45pm

Brian Lee's only played 7 games this year. He's a +1 on a team where most players are a minus.

You cannot point to a single game this year, where Brian Lee was the reason for losing. He hasn't shown us that he deserves a regular roster spot when given the opportunity, but he also hasn't been made to feel like he was a guy that the team wanted to invest time in, and help succeed.

The attitude has been "show us what you got", as oppose to "we like you, you're our guy, we really believe in you".

Believe or not, the subtlety of those different approaches matters, in any walk of life.

As for him not getting picked up on waivers, why bother when you can grab him on re-entry for half price.

Teams will grab him at the Boxing Day special of 50% off.