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Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer

Joe Smith

Joe Smith became the Tampa Bay Lightning beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times in 2014. He spent the previous six years splitting time covering the Rays, Bucs and Lightning He joined the Times in 2006 after spending two years with the Modesto Bee in California, where he did everything from covering the Single-A Modesto Nuts minor league baseball team and high school football to tackling first-person stories on whitewater rafting and adventure racing. Smith grew up in the Detroit suburbs and attended the University of Michigan, where he covered the football, basketball and hockey teams for the Michigan Daily. He freelanced for the Associated Press and Detroit Free Press before securing internships at Crain's Detroit Business and the Raleigh News & Observer. An avid runner, Smith loves traveling, bowling and singing karaoke.

Phone: (813) 310 9024



Lightning Strikes

  1. Lightning journal: Cedric Paquette returns to lineup after missing 13 games

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — For Cedric Paquette, the wait was finally over.

    Paquette returned to the Lightning lineup Wednesday against the Blackhawks after missing 13 games with an undisclosed injury. It had been so long that Paquette admitted he felt some nerves during the pre-game skate. "I'm so excited," he said. "I want to be back to myself on the ice."

    Paquette played in the first six games of the season, saying he felt he was playing his best hockey in three years. But an injury Oct. 9 lingered longer than he had anticipated. Paquette returned to the fourth line Wednesday with Ryan Callahan and Chris Kunitz. ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown (23) before an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
  2. Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov has watched plenty of film on Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.

    Kucherov marveled how the 2015-16 league MVP uses deception to "hide" from defenders. He noticed how patient Kane was with the puck, how well he passed it.

    They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, and Kucherov tries to incorporate a lot of Kane's traits.

    "Everything he does, it seems easy and smooth," Kucherov said. "He's an unbelievable player. Every time we play against him, I'm just watching him and have got the best seat in the arena."...

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) goes down after taking a high stick to the face from Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) during second  period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (01/21/16). Kane went to the penalty box for two minutes for the play and then after exiting went right back in for two more for interference. During the second Kane penalty Tampa Bay Lightning Nikita Kucherov scored a power play goal to go up 2 to 1. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  3. Early Lightning awards: Tough call on MVP

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — It's still way early, but if the Lightning's record start continues, there will be a lot of hardware up for grabs. And we're not just talking about the Stanley Cup.

    Nikita Kucherov has league MVP written all over him.

    Andrei Vasilevskiy could have a case for the Vezina Trophy.

    Steven Stamkos, the league's leading scorer, should stay in contention for the Art Ross Trophy....

    Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) has been dominant from the start of the season. He had 17 goals and 33 points heading into Saturday.
  4. Brayden Point becomes 'the heartbeat' of the Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — A local TV crew set up shop in front of Brayden Point's locker stall the other day, waiting for the Lightning forward to be ready.

    Then, captain Steven Stamkos walked into the room for his scrum. It didn't take long for the TV crew to change course, setting up in front of the superstar center.

    Point shrugged it off, quietly disappearing into the players' lounge.

    With the likes of Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov grabbing a lion's share of attention for the Lightning's 15-2-2 start, Point flies under the radar. But if you ask his teammates, or opposing coaches, the 21-year-old is one of the MVPs on the team with the best record in the NHL....

    Lightning center Brayden Point, who scored 18 goals during his 2016-17 rookie season, has eight goals in 19 games so far this season. “I’m still trying to prove myself in the league,” he says.
  5. Lightning pummels Stars for fifth straight win

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning welcomed Ben Bishop back with a classy, fitting video tribute in Thursday's first period.

    The sellout crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena gave Bishop, the greatest goalie in franchise history, a standing ovation. It was an emotional moment for the new Stars goaltender, who pointed to his chest, then waved back at the fans.

    "They hold a big place in my heart," Bishop said. ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a save along with defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) against Dallas Stars center Mattias Janmark (13) during second period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (11/16/17).
  6. Joe Smith's takeaways from Thursday's Lightning-Stars game

    Lightning Strikes

    There was a classy, fitting video tribute to former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop in the first period. Think of all the moments in his five seasons in Tampa Bay. It had to be emotional for Bishop, who calls Tampa his second home. He touched his heart and waved to the crowd during a standing ovation.

    Brayden Point's short-handed goal is a perfect example of what makes him a budding star in the league. He's relentless and smart. He picked the pocket of defenseman John Klingberg behind the Dallas net, then beat Ben Bishop to the far post for a critical goal to make it 3-1 Lightning....

  7. The net that used to belong to Ben Bishop is in good hands with Andrei Vasilevskiy

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Andrei Vasilevskiy stares across the Amalie Arena ice tonight, he'll see his mentor, his "big brother."

    Vasilevskiy, 23, will also see a little bit of himself.

    Ben Bishop, 30, the greatest goalie in franchise history, took Vasilevskiy under his wing the past three years.

    "He was my teacher," Vasilevskiy said.

    And Bishop, now with the Stars, is beaming with pride....

    Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during a stoppage in play against the Columbus Blue Jackets in November. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  8. Lightning Strikes podcast: Ben Bishop vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy

    Lightning Strikes

    In our latest Lightning Strikes! podcast, Joe Smith and Tom Jones discuss Ben Bishop's return to Tampa, his legacy with the Lightning, and the play of new No. 1 goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

    They also talk about the emergence of Vladislav Namestnikov, the chances Nikita Kucherov goes 50-in-50, and whether the Lightning needs to add any piece via trade. Listen below:...

    Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop reaches out to glove a shot from the New York Islanders Friday in Dallas. [AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez]
  9. Lightning emphatically answers power-play question

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were some questions going into the season what the Lightning would do to replace Jonathan Drouin on its potent power play.

    Sure, Tampa Bay was getting back a healthy Steven Stamkos. But Drouin, dealt to Montreal in June, was the quarterback on the side wall last year, setting up Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov.

    "You can't replace Jo," assistant coach Todd Richards said. "But you can do something different."...

    The Lightning experimented with several options before settling on Steven Stamkos (91) paired with Nikita Kucherov on opposite circles on the power play near the end of preseason, which quickly paid dividends.
  10. Lightning: The secret's out. Vladislav Namestnikov is on fire

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Russian wing darted into the slot during the third period of the Lightning's win Thursday in L.A.

    He instinctively ripped a rebound off the top-right corner crossbar into the net. Bar down. It was a goal scorer's goal.

    "It looked like Kuch," Fox Sports Sun analyst Brian Engblom said.

    Only it wasn't Nikita Kucherov. It was linemate Vladislav Namestnikov, who shouldn't be the forgotten man on the Lightning's dominant top line....

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) battles along the glass against  the Columbus Blue and left wing Matt Calvert (11) during second period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday evening (11/04/17). Coming in to help is Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) (in back on left). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  11. Lightning podcast: Dave Mishkin on Dave Andreychuk's Hall of Fame induction

    Lightning Strikes

    In this episode of his Lightning Strikes! podcast, Joe Smith and long-time Lightning radio voice Dave Mishkin discuss Dave Andreychuk's induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame and what other members of the 2004 Stanley Cup team might join him in the future.

    We break down the impact Andreychuk made on that '04 Cup team and more. Listen below:...

    Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Dave Andreychuk speaks to reporters after a news conference in Toronto, Friday. [Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP]
  12. Lightning tops Ducks, sweeps three-game West Coast trip

    Lightning Strikes

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Victor Hedman recalls many long nights over the years during the notoriously challenging California road trip.

    "Some really tough nights," he said.

    That's why Lightning coach Jon Cooper called this three-game trek through San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim the team's biggest test of the season. It would be, most years.

    But this Lightning team has the makings of a special one. ...

    Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, keeping an eye on the puck, isn’t very busy through the first two periods, facing just 14 shots. But a big third-period stop is key in the victory.
  13. Joe Smith's takeaways from Sunday's Lightning-Ducks game

    Lightning Strikes

    With the Lightning coming off two of its best games — and saying its speed, even on defense, was key — it was curious vs. the Ducks on Sunday to play D Andrej Sustr over Slater Koekkoek. Tampa Bay doesn't want a player to sit for two weeks (Sustr was scratched in five of the previous six games). But Koekkoek had earned his time.

    Did you see Mikhail Sergachev's slick, cross-zone feed to Nikita Kucherov in the first period? Holy moly. The rookie defenseman has special offensive skills. And he's daring enough to use them. Are we sure he's just 19?...

  14. Lightning journal: Settlement reached with Jonathan Drouin over contract bonus

    Lightning Strikes

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — After going through an arbitration hearing, the Lightning and former wing Jonathan Drouin agreed to a settlement over a performance bonus from last season, the Tampa Bay Times has confirmed.

    The settlement was for 90 percent of a $212,500 bonus. The disagreement revolved around a provision in Drouin's entry-level contract saying he needed to average at least .73 points per game for the bonus to kick in. After getting 53 points in 73 games last season, it looked like Drouin earned it. The Lightning, however, believed Drouin fell short because his points-per-game average was .726 when taken to another decimal point....

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  15. New Hall of Fame member Dave Andreychuk taught Lightning 'how to win'

    Lightning Strikes

    Dave Andreychuk was enjoying his annual guys trip at his northern Ontario cottage in late July 2001 when he got the call that would change his life — and eventually, the fortunes of the Lightning franchise.

    He was 38, and after a rough one-year reunion with the Sabres, he considered retiring. Andreychuk had 572 goals in 19 seasons. No Stanley Cup, but one heck of a career.

    His phone rang. It was his wife, Sue, who told him Lightning general manager Rick Dudley had called about bringing him to Tampa. Andreychuk was shocked....

    Tampa Bay Lightning Dave Andreychuk gives a hug to Vinny Lecavalier as he goes down the line greeting his team as they are introduced during the on ice celebration honoring the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship team at Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday evening (11/04/17). From left is Ruslan Fedotenko, Dan Boyle, Brad Richards, Andreychuk, Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis