Ottawa Senators fire coach D.J. Smith, name Jacques Martin interim coach

Ottawa Senators coach D.J. Smith was fired Monday after four seasons of no playoff appearances and a last-place start this season.

The Senators brought in two franchise leaders in a bid to turn around the slumping team.

Jacques Martin, 71, who holds the Senators record with 341 regular-season coaching wins, was named interim coach. All-time leading scorer Daniel Alfredsson was named assistant coach, replacing Davis Payne. Martin had been hired as a coaching consultant earlier this season.

"Detailed, structured, organized, disciplined," Senators president of hockey operations Steve Staios said of Martin. "So, for me, in theory, he's a perfect fit for what we had been lacking in those areas."

Smith is the fourth NHL coach to be fired this season, following the Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. The Oilers and Wild took off since their moves and the Blues won two in a row.

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Smith was in a tough situation this season because there is new ownership in Ottawa under Michael Andlauer. Andlauer brought in Staios in an executive role but kept Smith and general manager Pierre Dorion.

Dorion was gone first after the NHL docked the team a first-round pick over its role in a rescinded trade involving a former Senators player, Evgenii Dadonov.

Smith joined the Senators in 2019-20 and finished either seventh or sixth in his first four years, even though Ottawa made major upgrades in the fourth year with Claude Giroux, Alex DeBrincat and Jakob Chychrun. DeBrincat was traded, but Dorion added more players this past offseason, including Vladimir Tarasenko and Joonas Korpisalo.

Regardless, the Senators were last in the Eastern Conference at the time of the firing. Smith finishes with a 131-154-32 record in Ottawa.

"When I saw our game revert back to where it was before, that's when I felt it was time (to make a move)," Staios said.

Martin, who has 613 regular-season NHL wins, will be tasked with trying to turn around a team that has lost four in a row and eight of its last 11 games. His first game back behind the bench will be Tuesday in Arizona.

Ottawa has played the fewest games in the conference and the team will get Shane Pinto back at some point from his gambling suspension. But the Senators will have a road-heavy schedule down the stretch.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Senators coach DJ Smith fired; Jacques Martin named interim