VIDEO: Windsor Native D.J. Smith Named Senators Head Coach
Former Toronto Maple Leafs Assistant Coach and Windsor native D.J. Smith has been named the new Head Coach of the Ottawa Senators.
The 42-year-old Smith has agreed to a three year deal with the team. For the past four years he's been on the bench beside Mike Babcock in Toronto, after leading the OHL's Oshawa Generals to a Memorial Cup Championship in 2015.
During his introduction Thursday, Smith thanked his former employers.
"I would like to thank the Windsor Spitfires who allowed me to be the assistant coach a long time ago when this journey started," says Smith. "The Oshawa Generals who trusted me to be the head coach. The Toronto Maple Leafs over the last four seasons who allowed me to be in the NHL and I look forward to meeting the players as soon as this process can start."
Smith says the Sens are going, “to play hard they're going to play fast and they're going to work on a nightly basis. I think anyone that's been around me knows that that's what I'm going to ask of them but I'm also going to give that from myself."
Coaching in the NHL after his playing career ended has been a goal for Smith.
"Unfortunately my career ended short with some concussion issues and I went right into coaching and from that moment, anyone that knows me, knows if I'm doing something, I'm doing it all in and it was goal from that moment on and here I am 15 years later,16 almost as a head coach of a NHL team," says Smith.
Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion says they've found the right man for the job.
"DJ Smith is a winner. We believe he is the best person to stimulate the development and success of the Ottawa Senators, "says Dorion. “DJ is an excellent communicator and exceptional strategist. Her passionate approach and skills to teach the game are exactly the qualities we were looking for. We are pleased to welcome DJ and his family to Ottawa."
Prior to his stay in Oshawa, Smith spent six seasons as an assistant coach at the Windsor Spitfires.
While in Windsor, the Spitfires won two consecutive Memorial Cup titles in 2009 and 2010.
He played 45 games in the NHL for Toronto and Colorado — playing nine seasons in the AHL.
Smith is a former Spitfire as well, playing from 1994 to 1997.