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Smith to Sens, Hiller not returning, McFarland hired

May 23, 2019, 12:57 PM ET [259 Comments]
Mike Augello
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It was moving day for the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching staff, as D.J. Smith and Jim Hiller are moving on and Paul McFarland is moving into the fold.

Smith, who won a Memorial Cup with the Oshawa Generals in 2015 and served as an assistant to Mike Babcock the last four seasons, was named head coach of the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. Hiller, who coached the Toronto power play and came with Babcock from Detroit in 2015, was granted permission to speak with other clubs.

According to Pierre LeBrun of the Athletic, has spoken with the Nashville Predators and other clubs.

McFarland served as Smith’s assistant in Oshawa for two seasons before becoming head coach of the Kingston Frontenacs from 2014 – 2017. The Richmond Hill, ON native joined the Florida Panthers staff under Bob Boughner in 2017 and the 33-year-old was given a lot of credit for the success of the Panthers power play, which finished 2nd in the NHL last season (26.8%).

"I'm extremely excited to be coming home and joining the Maple Leafs organization,” McFarland said in a press release. “The Leafs have a great, young team and this is an amazing opportunity to work with Mike, his staff and these talented players."

The changes appear to be a much-needed shakeup after four years of the same staff under Babcock in Toronto, but could also be a sign of his tenuous position behind the Leafs bench. An example of this was in 2014, when assistants Dave Farrish, Greg Cronin and Scott Gordon were let go from Randy Carlyle’s staff after Toronto’s late season collapse> They were replaced by Steve Spott and Peter Horachek and Carlyle lasted to the halfway mark before being fired in January 2015.


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