Ottawa Sentaors logo. Courtesy NHL.com.

Windsor native named head coach of the Senators

The NHL now has yet another head coach with Windsor-Essex connections.

The Ottawa Senators announced Thursday morning that they have named former Windsor Spitfires assistant coach D.J. Smith as their new bench boss. Smith succeeds Guy Boucher, who was fired during the season, with assistant Marc Crawford filling in as head coach.

Smith, 42, joins the Senators after serving as an assistant coach for four seasons at one of Ottawa’s rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“D.J. Smith is a winner. We believe he is the best person to drive the development and success of the Ottawa Senators,” said Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion in a media release. “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 grew up in Windsor and played hockey as a defenceman. His junior career was with the hometown Spitfires. He played in 45 NHL games with the Leafs, Colorado Avalanche and the New York Islanders. He began a coaching career with the Spitfires, serving as an assistant for six seasons. During that time, the Spits won back-to-back Memorial Cups.

The first head coaching job for Smith came with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, where he spent three seasons. He guided Oshawa to a Memorial Cup title in 2015 and was named the OHL Coach of the Year during his tenure.