The Ottawa Senators fired coach D.J. Smith and assistant Davis Payne on Monday, continuing a season of change for the team.
Smith will be replaced by interim coach Jacques Martin. Earlier this month, the Senators hired Martin, who coached the Senators from the 1995-96 season through the 2003-04 campaign, as a senior advisor to the coaching staff.
The Senators said Martin, who has coached nearly 1,300 NHL games, will be on the bench Tuesday when the Senators face the Arizona Coyotes. Joining Martin will be former Senators captain and franchise career points leader Daniel Alfredsson, who will serve as an assistant coach.
Questions surrounding Smith’s future with the Senators had been building since last season. Since then, the Senators came under new ownership, with Canadian businessman Michael Andlauer becoming the majority owner back in September.
Andlauer’s first few months have proved challenging. The club’s struggle to find consistency was further amplified by restricted free agent forward Shane Pinto receiving a 41-game suspension for violating the NHL’s rules on sports wagering.
Less than a week later, the club fired general manager Pierre Dorion on the same day the Senators lost a first-round draft pick for their role in an invalidated trade back in 2022 involving Evgenii Dadonov and the Anaheim Ducks.
Dorion’s departure led to the Senators turning to president of hockey operations Steve Staios to serve as the club’s interim GM.
As for Smith, he was hired by the Senators back in 2019 to take over a team that was in the midst of a rebuild. The Senators missed the playoffs in each of his four full seasons, with their strongest finish coming last season when they went 39-35-8 but finished six points behind the Florida Panthers for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
Smith also becomes the fifth NHL head coach to be replaced this season.