The Maple Leafs announced the three men who will serve as assistant coaches to new bench boss Mike Babcock Tuesday – and one of them is a former NHLer who had a cup of coffee in Toronto in the late 1990s.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday named the three men who will serve as assistants to new head coach Mike Babcock next season – and one of them is a former Leafs player and now-former coach of the most recent Memorial Cup-winner.
D.J. Smith, who played 11 games for the Leafs in the late 1990s and 45 NHL games in his playing career, joins Babcock’s staff along with Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer. Smith had been head coach of the Ontario League’s Oshawa Generals for the past three seasons, and during the 2014-15 season, he led the team to both the OHL championship and Memorial Cup title. The year prior, the 38-year-old Smith was named the OHL’s coach of the year.
“I would like to thank Rocco Tullio and the entire Oshawa Generals organization as well as our great fans for supporting myself and my family over the past three seasons,” Smith said in a news release. “I am excited to begin a new chapter with the Maple Leafs and work alongside Mike Babcock, Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer.”
Smith joins in Toronto the 46-year-old Hiller, who spent the 2014-15 campaign as an assistant with Babcock in Detroit, and the 29-year-old Brewer, who served as the Wings’ assistant coach in charge coordinating the team’s coaching staff. Babcock left Detroit for the Leafs in late May after signing an eight-year, $50-million contract.
“I’m excited to have them join the organization,” Babcock said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us but are all thrilled to be part of the Maple Leafs.”
The Leafs also announced Tuesday that Matthew J. Herring, who worked for the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA last season, is joining the organization as head strength and conditioning coach.