Over the past few weeks the Ottawa Senators have hinted that they were ready to make a decision on a new coach. I honestly thought Patrick Roy was going to be their decision based on the fact that the interim head coach after Guy Boucher, Marc Crawford, also coached Roy back in Colorado. That link almost made it certain for me that Roy would end up getting the job. But Thursday morning rolled around and both Roy and Crawford were told that Senators were moving in a different direction for their 14th head coach in organization history. That direction was former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach, DJ Smith.
DJ Smith is from the Mike Babcock coaching tree and is a proven winner thus far in his career. I really like this pick for the Senators. They are almost in the same boat as the Rangers in which they will have a young roster and need a coach that is willing to grow through the pains with the players. DJ Smith seems like he is right guy for that role. He has an extensive coaching career in the OHL before joining the Leafs organization 4 years ago. Some highlights include 3 years with the Oshawa Generals where he went 40-20-6 in 2013-14, while also capturing Coach Of The Year honors. The very next year Smith went 51-11-2-4 and won the Memorial Cup. Before that he won back to back Memorial titles with the Windser Spitfires as an assistant coach in 09 and 10. There is a winning tradition everywhere this guy goes so I do believe that Ottawa is on the right track with Smith behind the bench.
Smith preached that he will hold the players accountable for the play and actions within the team. He also hoped that the media hold him responsible for holding them responsible. Confusing yes, but this all makes sense given the recent history of the Senators. After the uber video incident with the players and GM Randy Lee being arrested; Smith wants to bring back a bit of professionalism to the organization that has gotten black eye after black eye. Coach Smith will be a breath of fresh air for the organization and it should excite the fan base that they have a very knowledgeable and hard working coach that is willing to take on this challenge to not just change the team, but the organization as a whole.