The Maple Leafs may be going to back to the Ontario Hockey League in order to fill one of their vacant assistant coaching positions.
According to Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun, the Maple Leafs have offered Memorial Cup winning coach D.J. Smith a position behind the bench alongside Mike Babcock.
Smith played six seasons in the Toronto organization — mainly with the St. John’s Maple Leafs of the AHL — before retiring in 2004. The 38-year-old helped the Windsor Spitfires capture back-to-back Memorial Cup crowns as an assistant in 2009 and 2010 before moving on to coach Oshawa.
In his third season behind the Generals’ bench, Smith guided the team to a 51-11-2-4 record and its first Memorial Cup championship since 1990.
From the Toronto Sun:
“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.
According to the report, Smith has an out clause in his contract that would allow him to join the Maple Leafs.
There’s also been strong speculation that Babcock would like to bring in Jim Hiller as another assistant. Hiller was on Babcock’s staff with the Detroit Red Wings.
Smith’s professional hockey career all began with the Leafs, who acquired the former blue-liner from the New York Islanders in 1996 in a deal that saw fan favourite Wendel Clark return to Toronto.
If the Leafs bring on Smith as an assistant it will mark the fourth hire the team has made from the Ontario Hockey League in the last year.
Leafs co-general manager Kyle Dubas — former Sault Ste. Marie GM —brought in Greyhounds head coach Sheldon Keefe as Toronto Marlies bench boss last week. Mark Hunter (London Knights) and Jim Paliafito (Saginaw Spirit) also had strong OHL backgrounds before joining the Leafs.