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Multi-sport standout Lee chooses to excel in hockey

Wednesday, 01.07.2009 / 2:30 PM / 2009 NHL Entry Draft

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Anders Lee can't do it all; it just seems that way at times.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound multi-sport standout from Edina High School in Minnesota has one of the most accomplished sporting resumes you'll ever see.

For starters, the 18-year-old Lee is an exceptional scholastic hockey player, posting 32 goals and 55 points in 30 games last season. He was ranked No. 112 in the North American skater rankings by NHL's Central Scouting in its final rankings before the 2008 Entry Draft in Ottawa. Lee was not selected in the Draft, however, providing further incentive as a senior at Edina this season.

In 12 games this season, Lee already has 10 goals and 28 points, as well as a plus-20 rating for a team that sits at 11-1.

In the Nike Bauer National Invitational Tournament earlier this fall, a tournament featuring eight all-star teams from Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, California and Sweden, Lee led all scorers with 7 assists and 11 points in three games.

For many athletes, those accomplishments would be enough on which to hang one's hat. For Lee, it is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

Pick a sport and Lee is probably at least above-average in it.

Lee was also an All-State quarterback for Edina this season, an All-State pitcher last season and is a former national champion and North American record holder in long track speed-skating -- explaining why scouts occasionally comment on his unique low skating stride. Lee runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds.

Oh yeah, he also possesses a 3.97 grade-point average.

Now, maybe it is understandable why Lee was one of the most recruited athletes in Minnesota for the past 16 months or so.

But, that much-watched and much-discussed recruiting war is over. On New Year's Eve, Lee decided to play ice hockey at the University of Notre Dame, ending any speculation that he would instead choose a career in football.

Jack Barzee, a Midwest-based scout from the NHL Central Scouting, has been impressed with Lee and feels he could go as high as the third round at the Entry Draft this June in Montreal.

"I honestly believe that if Anders made the decision to continue his career at Notre Dame last season, he would have surely been selected at the 2008 Entry Draft," Barzee said.

What made Lee end the recruiting tug-of-war that has dominated his life? A weekend visit to Notre Dame seems to have done the trick.

"I knew at the end of the day I was going to have to pick one sport and one college and it was certainly a tough decision," Lee said. "I was really impressed with Notre Dame coach (Jeff) Jackson and his coaching staff and their long-term plan for the future.

"Coach Jackson was convinced I was a perfect fit for both his hockey program and Notre Dame and he believes he will be able to develop my game to succeed at the next level.''

Lee admitted he'll play one season in the United States Hockey League with the Green Bay Gamblers, the club that drafted him in 2007. He actually earned a spot on Green Bay's roster following tryouts last year but opted to return to Edina to close out his senior season with his classmates.
"The football decision was hard to let go; but in the end, timing turned out to be my decision maker." -- Anders Lee on choosing to play hockey
"The football decision was hard to let go; but in the end, timing turned out to be my decision maker," Lee said. "I had offers from a number of other Div. 1 schools, but the top programs I had interest in had already allocated their scholarships and assumed I was going the hockey route."

Harvard, Denver and Minnesota were among the top football programs that showed a keen interest in Lee.

Prior to entering Edina for the 2007-08 season, Lee had attended St. Thomas Academy, a Roman Catholic college preparatory high school in Minnesota. It was there he first began to excel in football, hockey and baseball while maintaining an exceptional grade-point average.

Lee earned a role with the varsity hockey team at St. Thomas as an eighth-grader but, all the while, yearned for playing with his friends closer to home in St. Paul. As it turned out, Lee decided to transfer to Edina because that's where he felt he would be happiest.

Edina ice hockey coach Curt Giles was also pretty happy with the decision.

"He's a strong kid who controls and handles the puck extremely well in tight spaces and down low. He works very hard and is a heck of a goal-scorer. He has a knack for scoring goals from the top of the circle and from the top of the slot."
-- Edina coach Curt Giles

"He's a strong kid who controls and handles the puck extremely well in tight spaces and down low," Giles said. "He works very hard and is a heck of a goal-scorer. He has a knack for scoring goals from the top of the circle and from the top of the slot."

Barzee feels Lee could become another Paul Martin, who is a defenseman with the New Jersey Devils. Martin was a four-sport dynamo at Elk River High School in Minnesota from 1996-00.

"Martin was not only the leading receiver in football and set records, he also stood out in track, baseball and ice hockey," Barzee said. "There's a common track record between Paul Martin and Anders Lee if you look real closely. Sure, they each have a different physical makeup and play different positions, but they are both elite athletes."

Martin, who totaled 31 touchdowns and 3,009 receiving yards in four seasons at Elk River, was named Mr. Hockey in 2000 as Minnesota's top scholastic player. He was drafted that year by the Devils in the second round (No. 62).

Lee was dominant on the gridiron this past fall. He rushed for 32 touchdowns and 1,104 yards and threw for 1,982 yards and five TDs; leading the nation with a 19.8 points-per game average. He guided Edina to a 6-4 record, before dropping a 20-17 decision to Eden Prairie in the sectional playoffs.

Fear not, Lee does not plan to abandon football completely. He figures to import the football mindset, at minimum into his hockey game plan going forward.

"I consider myself a power-forward who can finish," Lee said. "I'll work hard to get in front of the net and I enjoy working the corners. I don't go out looking to hit people, but I'll play physical in the corners and use my body when necessary."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com.