The Ottawa Senators have hired former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant D.J. Smith as their new head coach, the team announced Thursday. The 42-year-old spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs under head coach Mike Babcock.
Taking over from Guy Boucher, who was sacked on March 1, Smith is expected to bring accountability back to this group and the hope is he'll be able to put the young players in positions where they're able to have success so Ottawa can push for a playoff spot.
The first head coaching job for Smith came with the OHL's Oshawa Generals, where he spent three seasons.
Smith signed a three-year contract with the club on Thursday. That doesn't necessarily mean he is going to be a bad coach, but we also knew that Ottawa wasn't going to be spending top-dollar on a new hiring.
Wellwood, who is from Oldcastle, played under Smith on those two Windsor championship teams and was his assistant coach in Oshawa. I'm happy with my path as a head coach in the AHL and in particular, this organization. "I know players will be accountable under D.J. because of the way he talks and the way he communicates with players".
McFarland was in charge of Florida's forwards and power play, but sacked along with Boughner in the seemingly endless Panthers' coaching carousel "I'm extremely excited to be coming home and joining the Leafs", said the native of Richmond Hill. Chris Kelly will likely interview for an assistant's job, but will be moved back into player development until a decision is made while Rob Cookson, Martin Raymond and video coach Kris Young likely won't return. I'm pumped for him. There's a lot of guys breaking down barriers the way the game is being changed right now and I have the utmost respect for him.
"I watched 20 games for this interview and I see the young guys that are hungry and I know about their guys in Belleville so I look forward to working with these guys. You don't want a yes guy".
"He's National Hockey League coaching material and he's matured and grown". He was captain of the Spits and at Acadia University for four years, a university background that Babcock shares. "One thing about D.J., you can laugh because he's a amusing guy and tells great stories, but he has a great hockey mind and D.J.'s team won't be easy to play against".