Report: Sens looking at Leafs' coach for DJ Smith's replacement
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Report: Sens looking at Leafs' coach for DJ Smith's replacement

Stealing from their rival!?



Yesterday the Ottawa Senators finally, mercifully relieved head coach DJ Smith of his coaching duties. The team confirmed the rumors this yesterday, adding that the recently hired Jacques Martin will be taking over the position in the interim. More interestingly though, the Senators announced that Hall of Famer and Senators legend Daniel Alfredsson will also be joining Martin behind the bench. The pair obviously have a long history together in Ottawa and I'm intrigued to see how their dynamic plays out over the balance of the season.

Yesterday's news puts to rest months of speculation about Smith's future with the team. In four seasons as the team's head coach he has produced a fairly abysmal record, missing the playoffs each campaign. The team also looks well on their way to a 5th consecutive season without tasting the playoffs. And while there were no expectations of playoff glory when Smith took the job in 2019, this team was expected to take a step last season and this season. Smith simply hasn't been up to the task and now interim GM Steve Staios will have to find himself a new man for the job.

So... who's up for the job?

Senators insider Bruce Garrioch today reported that AHL Toronto Marlies head coach John Gruden would be a good fit, IF the Leafs allow him to discuss terms with Staios and the Sens.

More from Garrioch:

If you’re looking for a front­runner, league executives have told Postmedia in the last couple of weeks that the top candidate may be John Gruden, who was named the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies (the top farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs) before the start of the season.

A former Senators defenceman, Gruden, 53, worked for Ottawa owner Michael Andlauer and Staios for two seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs. The club won the J. Ross Robertson Cup (league playoff champions) in 2017-18 after going 43-18-7 in the regular season.

Gruden has a wealth of NHL experience as a coach. He worked as an assistant for four seasons with the New York Islanders before spending last season with the Boston Bruins. The Marlies have a 12-7-3-1 record and are in third place in the AHL’s North Division.

- Bruce Garrioch

You may recall that DJ Smith was also with the Leafs organization prior to joining the Sens. Methinks I see a pattern here...

Get ready for your 2028 Sens head coach Sheldon Keefe...

Read below for our earlier report from yesterday on this developing story.

The Ottawa Senators have finally done it.

In spite of the fact that many were shocked that Ottawa Senators head coach DJ Smith had not been fired, the Senators had managed to remain firm and stand behind their head coach... at least until now.

In an official statement released by the Senators on Monday, the team has confirmed that head coach DJ Smith has been relieved of his duties effective immediately.

According to that same announcement the Senators will now have veteran National Hockey League head coach Jacques Martin take over in the interim, and furthermore he will be joined by legendary former Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson behind the bench.

This is new owner Michael Andlauer's first chance to reshape his coaching staff, and it would appear that he has already put a great deal of thought into this decision.

Smith tried to keep practice loose and fun this morning for his team, but it seems that the Senators brass had seen enough.

Source: Bruce Garrioch