When the Ottawa Senators announced they had selected Brian Lee with the 9th overall draft pick in 2005, they though they had selected a defenseman who would star on their blueline for the next decade. He was a big thought polite defender, with an offensive mindset. A good skater and passer, he had real good hockey sense.
Lee, a bleach-blonde defenseman born in Moorhead, Minnesota, was a high school standout who had just won the "Mr. Hockey" award as top high school player in the hockey mad-state. He was on his way to the University of North Dakota, where he would star along side the likes of Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie and Travis Zajac for two seasons before turning pro.
His amateur resume, which twice included representing USA at the World Junior Championships, was incredibly impressive. Unfortunately his pro career never quite followed the same track. For 4 seasons in Ottawa and two in Tampa he struggled to stay in the lineup. He totalled 209 games, with 5 goals and 36 points scored.
Injuries really derailed his progress. His knee injury was so bad that doctors really pushed Lee to make a tough decision - keep trying or give up the game he loved.
“I went and saw a couple doctors, had an MRI and they took the decision out of my hands,” Lee told Inforum.com “They told me the area they fixed was kind of deteriorating to the point where if I had continued to play it might fall apart. They thought it would be wise if I could walk away from the game rather than limp away in a wheelchair. That’s what we decided.”
In addition to helping youth hockey teams in Moorhead, it seems Lee is planning on a return to school in North Dakota, this time to study nursing anesthesiology.
“My mom is a nurse (anesthetist) and she loves it and it’s just been something that’s been very interesting to me ever since I was in high school, so now I’ll have a chance to go to school for it,” Lee said. “I’m excited.”