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.
Smith signed a three-year deal.
“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.”
Smith is the 14th head coach in team history. He had a 135-53-3-13 record in three season with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals and spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the Windsor Spitfires.
“I’ve never seen DJ Smith in a bad mood at all,” Windsor general manager Warren Rychel told Postmedia Thursday morning. “He’s always looking to get better every day. The biggest thing about him is his communication skills. That’s the biggest thing right from the beginning.