D.J. Smith downplays speculation in him taking coaching job with Leafs
D.J. Smith recently won the Memorial Cup as coach with the Oshawa Generals. (AFP)
Are the Maple Leafs going to head back to the Ontario Hockey League for another hire?
One rumour making the rounds is D.J. Smith, who coached the Oshawa Generals to a Memorial Cup title in Quebec City in May, could be in line to join the Leafs as an assistant coach.
Smith did not return a text from the Toronto Sun, but told durhamregion.com later on Monday that “there’s nothing there at the moment” regarding a job with the Leafs.
The 38-year-old Smith, also the assistant general manager with the Generals, spent several seasons as a defenceman in the Leafs organization in the 1990s and early 2000s. Smith played in 11 games for the Leafs, spending the majority of his time with the St. John’s Maple Leafs, and later played in 34 games for the Colorado Avalanche.
“It makes sense because he just won, he’s a good coach, he’s ready to move on and it would keep in line with the Leafs’ hiring practices of late,” another source said.
If the Smith rumour becomes fact, he would follow Sheldon Keefe (head coach of the Toronto Marlies), Jim Paliafito (director of player evaluation), Mark Hunter (director of player personnel) and Kyle Dubas (assistant general manager) to the Leafs via the OHL in the past 11 months.
Smith has an out clause in his contract with the Generals that would allow him to join an NHL team.
There has been speculation for several weeks that Mike Babcock, who was hired as head coach on May 20, will bring Jim Hiller to Toronto as an assistant coach. Hiller was an assistant on Babcock’s staff with the Detroit Red Wings.
Steve Spott, who was fired when Leafs president Brendan Shanahan purged much of the hockey staff in April, has interviewed with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins to be their next head coach. Peter DeBoer, recently hired as head coach of the San Jose Sharks, would like to bring Spott, a close friend of his, aboard as an assistant coach.
Meanwhile, former Leafs assistant coach Chris Dennis has been hired by the York University Lions to be the head coach of the men’s hockey team.