Ottawa Senators hire Maple Leafs’ D.J. Smith as head coach

The Ottawa Senators have turned to the Toronto Maple Leafs for their new bench boss.

Ottawa announced Thursday morning it has hired Toronto assistant coach D.J. Smith as their new head coach, replacing interim coach Marc Crawford.

“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 in a statement.

“[He] 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.”


Then Oshawa Generals head coach D.J. Smith raises the Memorial Cup trophy after they won the 2015 tournament 2-1 in overtime against the Kelowna Rockets. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Smith, 42, was brought into the Leafs organization by coach Mike Babcock in 2015 after Babcock inked an eight-year contract.

Before that, Smith led the OHL’s Oshawa Generals to the 2015 Memorial Cup and was an assistant coach in his hometown of Windsor, Ont., when the Spitfires won back-to-back national championships in 2009 and 2010.

He played 45 NHL games between 1996 and 2003 with Toronto and Colorado, spending the rest of his professional playing career in the American Hockey League.

His 2002-03 Colorado Avalanche teammate Patrick Roy was also reportedly in the running for the Senators job, as were Crawford and former Senators coaches Rick Bowness and Jacques Martin.

Former Senators coach Guy Boucher was fired in March during his third season on the job.

The Senators have called a news conference for 12:30 p.m. ET.

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