I want something to be clear right off the top: I don’t enjoy writing about this any more than you like reading about it. It gives me no pleasure to see the Ottawa Senators organization behave reprehensibly in their handling of the accusations levied at Randy Lee. At the same time, even as a mere “fan site”, we cannot simply put our heads in the sand and act as if things will just blow over. The accusations that have been levied against Lee are serious and they must be treated seriously. This is the biggest, most important, thing involving the Ottawa Senators at this moment in time. It must be written about.
Late last night, there was an article in the Ottawa Citizen from crime reporter Gary Dimmock with more details of the alleged incident from the police report. The new pieces of information are as follows:
The 19-year-old hotel shuttle driver had already told him to stop touching his shoulder when the front-seat passenger started rubbing it.
Then the passenger offered to massage parts of his body and then “tried to get (the teen driver) to look at his groin area because he had an erection.”
These additional details are extremely troubling, and must also have been known by the Sens’ organization since Lee was first arrested. It is truly remarkable that with all of this information at their disposal, Ottawa continues to allow Lee to operate in his regular capacity — especially since his job involves him dealing directly with teenage boys. A suspension was the very bare minimum to ask of them in this situation. It continues to be a massive organizational failure that even this very small first step wasn’t taken.
The other piece of new information found in the article is that Eugene Melynk sought out and hired Paul J Cambria to defend Lee. Cambria is probably best known in the hockey world for defending Patrick Kane against rape charges. Randy Lee is, of course, entitled to defend himself against these charges in a court of law. Melnyk is not, however, required to seek out and pay for the lawyers to defend Lee. In fact, the organization acting in this manner makes it clear where they stand and what they prioritize: defending Lee at all costs.
We should expect more from a team that positions itself as a pillar of the community. If the Sens want to be known as leaders in Ottawa, not just on the ice, then they need to show real leadership. These are serious allegations that merit more than hastily penned press releases that aren’t even available on the team website or any of their social media channels. The organization would really just prefer if everyone stopped talking about it and it just went away on its own. That’s not good enough.
The sports teams that we cheer for should go beyond the very bare minimum. We should ask more of them, especially as they position themselves as part of the fabric of our society. In this case, the Sens haven’t even met a very low bar.
It’s not good enough.