Ottawa Senators hire D.J. Smith, former Maple Leafs assistant, as new head coach

After their worst season in more than two decades, the Ottawa Senators have announced a new head coach, naming former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant D.J. Smith the successor to interim coach Marc Crawford.

Crawford guided the Senators to a 7-10-1 finish in 2018-19 following the firing of coach Guy Boucher and the trading of veterans Mark Stone and Matt Duchene. But Crawford was told Thursday morning, along with other notable candidates like former Avalanche coach Patrick Roy, who also played for Crawford in Colorado, that Ottawa would be opting for someone else, per TSN's Bob McKenzie.

That someone is D.J. Smith, who spent the last four seasons serving under Mike Babcock with the Maple Leafs and will be the 14th head coach in Senators history.

"D.J. Smith is a winner," Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said Thursday. "We believe he is the best person to drive the development and success of the Ottawa Senators. 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."  

A former defenseman with a long minor league career who played 45 games in the NHL with the Avalanche and Maple Leafs, the 42-year-old Smith boasts Ontario Hockey League coaching experience from before his time with the Leafs. Smith led the Oshawa Generals for three years and he earned OHL Coach of the Year honors in 2013-14 for a 42-20-0-6 record and led the team to an even better finish the following season, going 51-11-2-4 en route to a Memorial Cup title. 

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