D.J. Smith was fired as coach of the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

Jacques Martin, who was hired as senior adviser to the coaching staff on Dec. 6, will serve as interim coach. Daniel Alfredsson, the Senators all-time leader in points, will be an assistant to Martin.

They will both be behind the bench when the Senators play at the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; SCRIPPS, ALT2).

"I think with some of the things that I've [seen] with our group, as far as inconsistencies, [are] a strength of Jacques Martin's, along with Daniel Alfredsson," Ottawa president of hockey operations and interim general manager Steve Staios said Monday. "I think we're all looking for more consistency, more detail to our game, more structure. So, I explained the rationale behind it all (to the players), and Jacques has been around the group a little bit now and they're getting to know him, and Jacques had an opportunity to address the group about what his expectations were.

"Like any time on days like this, there's disappointment because we all feel somewhat responsible for being in this situation, and optimism moving forward."

Staios said Martin will be "in the middle of the bench with the clear messaging, the leadership and the calm demeanour," while Alfredsson will work with the forward group and the power-play units.

Alfredsson was an assistant under Smith during Ottawa's two games in Stockholm during the 2023 NHL Global Series Sweden. Jack Capuano, who was an assistant under Smith, will stay on and work with the defensemen and penalty kill, along with Ben Sexton, who also remained on staff.

Assistant coach Davis Payne was fired along with Smith.

"Even from the beginning, the more that Daniel Alfredsson could be around our group, I think the bigger benefit it was for all of us," Staios said. "So, I always kept that in mind. In my more recent conversations with him, I think he saw the same things that I did as far as our game play. He cares so much about this team and about this organization, so when I approached him again about coming on full-time, he said, 'I'll do whatever it takes.' So, that started the ball rolling on maybe looking at a different dynamic and having 'Alfie' in here."

The Senators (11-15-0), who are coming off a 6-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday, are last in the Atlantic Division. They have not qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2017, when they lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final.

"As a coach, you take all the responsibility and I deserve that, my team's not winning," said Smith, was fired after running practice at Mountain America Community Iceplex in Tempe, Arizona. "I'm the one that's putting them on the ice, I'm the one making the decisions, so I'm my own biggest critic. But in saying that, I believe in this group and I believe in the leaders and the core guys that they're going to find a way.

"The one thing I know is these guys are trying. Part of the growing process is figuring out how to do it right for 60 minutes. Every first period we're coming out in the right way. And we've found ways in the second period maybe to not play the right way. That was the message today, but ultimately, it's more mental than it is physical or effort based. I know that the leadership group here is outstanding, and I know that these guys are doing everything in their power to get this thing turned around."

Ottawa Senators fire Head Coach D.J Smith

Smith, 46, was 131-154-32 in 317 regular-season games after being hired May 23, 2019, to replace Marc Crawford, who went 7-10-1 that season after replacing Guy Boucher on March 1. Ottawa's .464 points percentage during Smith's tenure was 25th in the NHL.

The Senators, who were in a rebuilding process when Smith was hired, were expected to compete for a playoff spot this season after going 39-35-8 last season, when they finished six points behind the Florida Panthers for the second wild card from the East.

"D.J. handled it like a true pro," Staios said. "I mean, he worked right until the end and cared about this group and was a big part of the development of a lot of our players, our young players, to get them to this level. It was a difficult day for him. It was a difficult day for me. It's a difficult day for our players because I think we all feel a sense of responsibility, including D.J. So, he was disappointed in himself. ... We had a good, long conversation, and he accepted it and, again, was disappointed that he couldn't see it through."

Smith's firing comes less than two months since Pierre Dorion was relieved of his duties as general manager Nov. 1. Dorion, who hired Smith, was replaced by Staios on an interim basis.

Smith is the fourth NHL coach to be fired this season, joining Jay Woodcroft (Edmonton Oilers), Dean Evason (Minnesota Wild) and Craig Berube (St. Louis Blues).

Martin previously coached the Senators from 1996-2004, going 341-235-20 with 96 ties in those nine seasons. He is Ottawa’s leader in games coached (692), regular-season wins, playoff wins (31) and playoff games coached (69).

"I believe in this team," Staios said. "I believe in this core. I believe that we have lots of areas to improve in. We lack experience I think in some areas, which you only get by playing the games and getting through it, but what I'm looking for is consistent play. I think that there's been far too many times through the season where we're not quite sure exactly what we're going to get on a night-by-night basis." independent correspondents Alan Robinson and Callum Fraser contributed to this report

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