DJ Smith was hired as head coach of the Ottawa Senators after the 2018-19 season and has been with the team through some of the darkest times, as the team had a complete teardown and rebuild under him. All of the players in Ottawa seemingly love playing for Smith, but the results are not good enough, especially after general manager Pierre Dorion did a fantastic job improving the roster over the most recent offseason.
The Senators have plenty more talent than any other season under Smith, but they are still struggling to take a step forward. Fans have been calling for a coaching change for the majority of the season, and there is certainly an argument to have a new voice behind the bench. Dorion acknowledged the conversation of firing Smith, but backed his coach and said there is no plan for a coaching change.
During a press conference on Nov. 7, Dorion stated “I am happy with the job D.J. has done…obviously at 4-7, it’s a bit tougher, but I think it’s the first time we’ve given him a team that can compete for the playoffs.”.
The Senators record hasn’t gotten much better since then. Their record of 20-23-3 is not where the team planned on being. After preaching the importance of playing important games in March and April, they’re all but out of the playoff race in January. After a November record of 4-9-1 and currently 4-6-0 in January, the team needs to be better, and that may start with a coaching change.
DJ Smith Was the Right Coach for the Rebuilding Years
There are a lot of positives about Smith as a coach. Players love playing for him. His top players have publicly defended him on multiple occasions, and players always mentioned how much they appreciate having a voice like his behind the bench.
He did a great job of giving young players the opportunity to develop, gain confidence, and be put into a position to succeed. His relationship with a young Tim Stutzle gave the German star the ability to get comfortable in the NHL and transition to center when he felt comfortable. He spent his first season on the wing and the beginning of his sophomore season, too. Smith waited for Stutzle to make the call and say he is comfortable switching to center full-time. That was the last time Stutzle played on the wing, and he has taken a giant step forward since making the transition.
This is a perfect example of why a…