Who doesn't like a good conspiracy?
Well, thanks to the Ottawa Citizen's Wayne Scanlan, we may now have some theoretical insight as to why Brian Lee, in spite of some recent good play, was demoted back to Binghamton.
Note 3: An eagle-eyed Ottawa Senators fan witnessed an interesting exchange between defenceman Brian Lee and head coach Cory Clouston during the most recent home game, last Thursday's 2-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
According to the observer, Clouston marched down the bench in the second period to speak to Lee, who had just come off the ice at the end of a shift. Nothing unusual there, except that instead of just giving the usual player nod of agreement or understanding, Lee turned his head to speak back to the coach, and Clouston barked back at him again.
None of this would mean all that much if Lee had not been demoted to the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators the next day, while rookie Erik Karlsson was promoted to take Lee's place.
Lee did take an interference penalty early in the second period, and the subject of penalties was a touchy one last week, with the Senators implying they were receiving more than their share of minor infractions.
This much is indisputable. Lee had his butt basically stapled to the bench in the third period of that tight Columbus game. He played exactly one minute 27 seconds of the third. A matter of hours later, he was looking at Ottawa in the rear-view mirror, on his way to Bingo.
Ok, this story may be strictly conjecture and I'm 99.9% certain that Lee's two-way contract vs Chris Campoli's one-way contract played a role as well, but damnit if it's not entertaining to read and discuss. Carry on Wayne...
Lee had been playing pretty well since being called up on Oct. 29. He averaged more than 16 minutes per game, had recorded two goals and one assist and was a minus-1.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray told me from San Jose on Monday that the move was made with the big picture in mind, not any individual incident from the Columbus game, and that he made the decision, not Clouston.
"I decided to flip Lee and Karlsson," Murray said. "I thought Brian had not played with the confidence nor commitment we need from that position. We just want him to develop his game."
Isn't it also weird how Murray mentioned that the organization felt it was in Karlsson's best interests to develop at the NHL level but the organization's never really extended the same opportunity to Brian Lee?