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D.J. Smith out as Sens head coach; Alfredsson joining coaching team


The Ottawa Senators have announced that D.J. Smith has been relieved of his duties as head coach.

President of Hockey Operations Steve Staios made the announcement Monday, following the Senators' 6-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday, their fourth loss in a row.

Speaking to reporters from the team's hotel in Tempe, Ariz., Staios said it has been a difficult day.

"I think we all feel a sense of responsibility, including D.J. He was disappointed in himself and handled it like a true pro. We had a good, long conversation and he accepted it and was disappointed that he couldn't see it through," he said.

In addition to Smith, assistant coach Davis Payne has also been relieved of his role, a news release said. The remaining members of the coaching staff have been retained and Jacques Martin will serve as the team's interim head coach.

The Senators also announced that long-time former captain and all-time franchise points leader Daniel Alfredsson is joining Martin's coaching staff as an assistant coach.

"You look at Alfie's strengths, which are plentiful, you look at his ability to wotk with our forward group, his ability to work on the power play; that's what's led to putting this group together," Staios said. "When you bring in someone like Daniel Alfredsson, he's going to have a massive impact on the team, in general, in all areas."

Martin will make his return to the Ottawa bench when the Senators visit the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. Alfredsson will also assume an on-bench role.

Staios said the team had been playing inconsistently and he felt the time was right to make the move to fire Smith and regain some consistency.

"I gave them (the players) the rationale on the decision and the timing of it. I think with some of the things I saw with our group, when it comes to the inconsistencies, is a strength of Jacques Martin's and Daniel Alfredsson," he said. "I think we're looking for more consistency, more detail to our game, more structure."

The Senators are last in the Atlantic Division, with a record of 11 wins and 15 losses this season.

D.J. Smith was named the Senators' head coach in 2019, and was offered a contract extension in 2021. The Senators missed the playoffs for four straight seasons with Smith behind the bench. He ends his career with the Sens with a 131-154-32 record.

His ouster comes on the heels of General Manager Pierre Dorion being let go in November after eight years with the franchise.

Martin was the Senators' third head coach, first hired in 1996. He spent nine seasons with the Senators and posted a 341-255-96 (.562) regular-season record with the franchise.

Martin, 71, remains the team’s all-time leader in games coached (692), regular-season wins (341), playoff wins (31) and playoff games coached (69). He led the Senators to eight playoff appearances and three division titles during his time in the nation's capital.

Earlier this month, he had been appointed as a senior advisor to the coaching staff.

"Like any time on days like this, there's disappointment, because we all feel somewhat responsible for being in this situation and then optimism moving forward," Staios said. Top Stories

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