Weekly Question: How Safe is DJ Smith?

How Much is Dorion Willing to Risk of his Hot Pierre Summer

After last night’s defeat, the Ottawa Senators have fallen to last in the Atlantic division. Truth be told, I don’t know what to think of the Ottawa Senators so far. It seems they can win every game but there have also been long stretches of uninspired play. At a record of 4-4-0, it seems they can be very good and terribly bad within the span of a few periods of play. That 4-4 is probably fair to them on the merits.

When the expectations are as high as they were for the Sens coming into this season, you can expect every loss to be met with maybe an unreasonable amount of frustration. Most fans are forgetting this team has a lot of new pieces still trying to gel together and certainly losing Josh Norris and Artem Zub in one week isn’t helping. However, even early on in the season there are a few areas of early concern.

It’s easy to point the finger at one player or one mistake but with some recurring issues the age-old question of coach DJ Smith’s future comes up again. There are some fans that want the coach fired after every loss, but there are certain concerns that I think are valid.

I like Smith, and I think that the work he has done with our younger players is quite underrated but when it comes to adapting, it seems he always lags before making the right decisions. I understand Artem Zub’s injury leaves a gap to be filled but Smith had previously decided to insert Zaitsev into the lineup against the Wild for unclear reasons. You could posit that he wanted to rest Holden or make sure everyone has fresh legs but the hockey adage is that you don’t mess with a winning lineup for a good reason. Against the Panthers, Zaitsev had the second highest defensive time on ice after Thomas Chabot at 19.25 minutes; compared to 13 minutes given to Erik Brännström who has more than proven himself capable. Thomas Chabot had 29 minutes of ice time, and with both Jake Sanderson and Brännström showing they can handle a lot more pressure, it makes less sense that Chabot is still being over utilized to this extent.

Pierre Dorion spent the summer making sure he finally builds the team he can call his legacy and he did quite the job. That being said, he is convinced the rebuild is over and with players like Artem Zub and Alex DeBrincat in contract extension talks, he needs to have the leverage to convince both of them to stay and for a long time.

As fans, we have the luxury to keep rooting for Smith and hope he works out even when he might have been outcoached , but will Pierre Dorion have the same patience as we do considering how much he’s put into this new team he’s built?

Is DJ Smith’s Job In Danger?

Yes and he probably won’t last the season254
Yes, but not in the short term178
No, Dorion will be patient with him for at least this season144
No, none of the losses were really his fault 17

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