There has been a lot of talk over the past few days about potential changes coming to the Toronto Maple Leafs front office this offseason and we could see some changes behind the bench as well.
Recently D.J. Smith was voted by the NHLPA as the current assistant coach that could be head coach material in the future. Mike Babcock was asked about Smith and just how important he is to this team today.
“I think the thing with DJ is, in my opinion, he’s going to be a good NHL head coach,” Babcock said, per Maple Leafs Hot Stove. “I always look, when I’m going to hire people, for serial winners. So, wherever they’ve gone, they’ve won. To me, that means something. Did you win at playoff time? Were you able to deliver? The first few were as an assistant in Windsor, but you’re still doing it and a big part of it. Obviously, doing it yourself in Oshawa… I’m a big believer that major junior is like NHL light. It’s like light beer. It’s exactly the same. You’ve got to coach stars. You’ve got to handle stars, and you’ve got to have success with them.
“To me, he’s got a good ability to talk to people, understands the game, and has been around now for three years and has a real good understanding of what the NHL is all about and what it takes. I think he’s going to have good success as a coach. The other thing, I think, is prior to this year, when we talked about it this summer, I didn’t think that… To me, it’s like a player. If you arrive when you’re over-ready, you have confidence and you stay long. When you arrive when you’re not ready, you leave fast. I think he’s set up good.”
There is no doubt that there will be some openings this summer, so it will be interesting to see if Smith gets an interview or two.