The Senators need “consistency.” From “structure”. Of “experience”. It was in search of these principles that the team made the decision to fire head coach D.J. Smith on Monday. Veteran Jacques Martin comes in the hope of righting the ship, while Daniel Alfredsson accompanies him on board.

Martin was named interim head coach by general manager Steve Staios. Alfredsson will be his assistant and will replace Davis Payne behind the bench. Because change was needed in Ottawa.

“I believe in this group and in our core,” Staios assured at a press conference early Monday evening. “But there are several areas where we can improve. We lack experience in certain areas. »

“In theory, Jacques meets our criteria perfectly (he’s the perfect fit), he says. He is structured, organized, disciplined and detail-oriented. He brings his voice and his experience behind the bench, and it will resonate with our group. »

Martin and Alfredsson will both be behind the team’s bench against the Coyotes in Arizona on Tuesday. For “Alfie”, the former captain and leading scorer in franchise history, this will be his first experience as a professional coach.

“About our style of play, he saw the same things as me,” says Staios. He truly cares about our organization and our team. When I approached him about joining us full-time, he said, “I’m going to do everything I can [to help].” »

Staios is also – and above all – president of hockey operations for the Senators. He hopes to see great chemistry behind the bench between seasoned coach Jacques Martin and rookie Daniel Alfredsson. The latter will be called upon to work on the offensive game, like his predecessor Davis Payne.

“The dynamic between the two, it’s perfect, they’ll work well together. »

It was an open secret that Jacques Martin would replace D.J. Smith if the Senators’ setbacks continued to pile up. The team hired him as a coaching advisor earlier this month.

Staios was named interim CEO following the dismissal of Pierre Dorion in November. Once a general manager is formally hired, he will be able to choose his own coaching staff. The “acting” label is therefore important to take into account today, both in the case of Staios and for Jacques Martin.

Ottawa is now languishing in the bottom of the Atlantic Division and in 30th place in the general rankings.

The team has lost 11 of its last 18 games since the firing of Pierre Dorion. She also lost her last four games, allowing more than four goals on each occasion. The 6-3 loss to the Golden Knights in Vegas on Sunday night was clearly one too many.

Staios concedes that the start of the season has been “difficult” in terms of “injuries”, which has made it difficult to assess the team’s problems.

“But as the season went on, we had more encouraging portions,” he said, justifying his choice to be “patient” before making a decision about Smith.

Smith led the Senators’ practice that morning in Arizona, a few minutes before finally being let go.

“D.J. handled it like a pro,” said the GM. He worked until the end because he cares about this group. He has been very important in the development of our young players, leading them to where they are today. It’s a difficult day for me and for the players. »

The Senators haven’t made the playoffs in six years. They will likely be excluded from the spring dance for the seventh consecutive time at the end of this season.

The organization promised its supporters reconstruction six years ago. Expectations have become significantly higher over the past two seasons, but results have not kept up. During that stretch, Smith, hired in May 2019, went 131-154-32 in Ottawa.

Jacques Martin was head coach of the Sens from 1995 to 2004, compiling a record of 341-255-96 in the season, then 31 victories in the playoffs. Martin won the Jack Adams Trophy, awarded to the outstanding coach, in 1999.

He won the Stanley Cup as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.

He is now 71 years old and has not been at the helm of a team since his dismissal by the Montreal Canadiens in 2012.

Is the arrival of Daniel Alfredsson as an assistant to the Senators a sign that the organization wishes to invite him to perfect his coaching skills and eventually become its main technician?

“Alfie is a talented guy in several areas,” believes Staios, who remains evasive on the merits of the question. He has a keen mind for hockey. If he decides to be a coach, he will have long-term success. He is extremely committed to helping the Senators and our playing group. »