D.J. Smith will be switching sides in the Battle of Ontario.
The Ottawa Senators announced the 42-year-old Smith will be the full-time replacement for Guy Boucher, who was fired by the club on March 1.
Though Smith wasn’t the most high-profile candidate amongst the seven that were interviewed for the post by general manager Pierre Dorion, the indications are he sat down with club officials for two face-to-face meetings in the last two months and was impressive.
Smith is a former head coach of the Oshawa Generals and he won a Memorial Cup in 2015 before joining Mike Babcock’s staff with the Leafs for the last three seasons. The Senators asked for permission to speak to Smith in 2016 when the club hired Boucher, but at that time the Leafs didn’t want to let him go.
“D.J. Smith is a winner. We believe he is the best person to drive the development and success of the Ottawa Senators,” said general manager Pierre Dorion. “D.J is a great communicator and an exceptional strategist. His passionate approach, coupled with his ability to teach the game, is exactly what we were looking for throughout the process. We’re thrilled to welcome D.J. and his family to Ottawa.”
It’s not known what will happen with interim coach Marc Crawford, who finished with a 7-10-1 record in the final 18 games after taking over from Boucher. The 58-year-old Crawford was the first candidate interviewed for the post and he spent the last three seasons on Boucher’s staff.
The club also spoke with Belleville coach Troy Mann, Pittsburgh assistant Jacques Martin, Providence College coach Nate Leaman and Dallas assistant Rick Bowness. Martin and Bowness have both had stints behind the Ottawa bench in the past.
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