"It was great, wasn't it?"

It's safe to say that was not the reaction we were expecting when talking about Grey's Anatomy killing off Patrick Dempsey's character last year. You'll have to forgive ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee for his enthusiasm at the Television Critics Association fall previews on Tuesday. As an network exec, he's naturally thinking about the big picture.

"I don't mean that [death] was great," he amended. "It was great to see Grey's Anatomy so relevant and taking the national conversation in its 11th season"

Grey's Anatomy can't replace McDreamy, but they're trying

As for the fans who still aren't over losing Dr. Derek Shepherd, Lee isn't about to take the blame. "It was a difficult decision," he said. "Patrick has lots of interests outside. Shonda [Rhimes] decided that was the way to go."

And yes, life will go on without McDreamy. Lee has seen the pitch for Grey's' upcoming season and says, "The show reinvents itself again. [Rhimes] really is a remarkable showrunner and we have no reason to expect that Grey's Anatomy won't go on for many years to come."

Grey's Anatomy returns on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 8/7c on ABC.

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