|As the Ottawa Senators' director of player development, Randy Lee oversees the growth of the organization’s prospects at the American Hockey League, college, junior hockey and European levels (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/OSHC). |
In Randy Lee’s mind, it was the next logical step.
After spending the previous six seasons as the Ottawa Senators’ conditioning and player development coach, Lee was promoted to a new role this season. As the Sens’ director of player development, he oversees the club’s prospects at the American Hockey League, college, junior hockey and European levels.
It’s a move that Lee said has been in the works for two years.
“I loved my old job but I was ready for a new challenge,” said Lee. “When Bryan (Murray, the Senators general manager) presented this opportunity to me, I was very excited. It’s also a chance for me to experience another side of the hockey business, the management side.
“You’re thinking big picture instead of day to day.”
While Lee has a major hand in working with Senators prospects on their physical and mental skills and nutritional concerns, a lot is also expected of the players themselves.
“Every player has to take ownership for his development,” said Lee, now in his 14th season with the Senators organization. “They have to take a personal stake in it and we guide them through the process, so that they’ll be that much further ahead.”
And he’s there to lend a big hand to those willing to do the necessary work.
“Players want to know the organization cares about them and is willing to challenge them or support them, whatever is needed,” said Lee. “I think they know I’m in their corner fighting for them.”
While Lee will often pay players a personal visit, he also keeps in regular contact with prospects via e-mail. As well, he compiles an update newsletter that is distributed on a monthly basis.
“The newsletter is a good resource for sharing development-related information,” he said. “It’s also a chance for players to tell their own stories, talk about the challenges they’ve faced and obstacles they have overcome.”
Lee admits the travel part of his job is extensive. So it helped being able to see prospects such as Erik Karlsson
, Andre Petersson and Jim O’Brien perform at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship right at Scotiabank Place.
"Every player has to take ownership for his development. They have to take a personal stake in it and we guide them through the process, so that they'll be that much further ahead." - Randy Lee
The Senators organization tries to be “as hands on as possible” in developing its young talent at its development camp in June and rookie tournament in September. He makes regular trips to Binghamton to work with one-on-one with prospects, including being on ice for practices, running team conditioning sessions and organizing development seminars.
“The organization believes (player development) is a huge investment that will translate into a big payoff if it’s done right,” said Lee.
He doesn’t have to look far for successful examples.
“I’ve seen guys like Daniel Alfredsson
, Mike Fisher and Chris Phillips
come in as young men and now they’re proven veterans,” said Lee. “You get a sense of how it’s done right and the level of commitment required to become a professional.”