Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Email: joesmith@tampabay.com

Blogs:

Lightning Strikes

link
  1. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    But Esposito, 75, also shared some high praise, saying Sosunov reminded him of a young Zdeno Chara, the 6-foot-9 Bruins captain.

    Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness, who coached Chara as an Islanders rookie, said Sosunov is a better skater than Chara was at that time. ...

    Lightning 6-foot-8 defenseman Oleg Sosunov competes in the preseason opener. Phil Esposito jokes that Sosunov can reach the ceiling at Amalie Arena.
  2. Cal Foote ready for Lightning exhibition debut

    Blog

    Just three months ago, defenseman Cal Foote was getting his name called in the first round of the NHL Draft.

    And now Foote, 18, is preparing for another milestone, his first NHL exhibition tonight. The Lightning hosts Carolina at 7:30 p.m.

    "Kind of a dream my whole life, my whole childhood," Foote said. "So it’s going to be a fun moment, that’s for sure."...

    Adam Foote, left, said there have been a few eye-opening moments in his first NHL training camp, but is feeling more comfortable every day.
  3. Oleg Sosunov brings intrigue to Lightning exhibition opener

    Blog

    When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked he thought the 6-foot-8 Russian would hit the ceiling at Amalie Arena.

    But Esposito also felt Sosunov reminded him of a young Zdeno Chara, the long-time Bruins defenseman.

    Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness, who coached Chara with the Islanders at the beginning of his career, could see that....

    Oleg Sosunov's ability to skate for his size, his reach, and his style have drawn comparisons to Zdeno Chara.
  4. Former Lightning first-round pick Slater Koekkoek faces make-or-break season

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — This time last year, it was Slater Koekkoek's job to lose.

    Koekkoek, 23, a first-round pick in 2012, was coming off an impressive performance in the run to the Eastern Conference final. But while the smooth-skating defenseman did make his first opening night roster — "a dream come true" — it didn't last long. Koekkoek was a healthy scratch the first week, then sent to AHL Syracuse, where he would spend the second half of the season....

    Slater Koekkoek signed a "show-me" one-year, $800,000 deal this summer and faces the most competitive blueline battle in years. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Lightning's Slater Koekkoek: 'I've got something to prove'

    Blog

    This time last year, it was Slater Koekkoek's job to lose.

    Koekkoek, 23, the former Lightning first-round pick, was coming off an impressive performance in the run to the Eastern Conference Final. The smooth-skating defenseman did make his first opening night roster - "a dream come true" - but it didn't last long. After a so-so camp, Koekkoek was scratched the first week, then sent to AHL Syracuse, where he spent the second half of the season....

    Slater Koekkoek faces extensive competition on the blueline, which is at least eight-deep.
  6. Anton Stralman remains sidelined in Lightning camp

    Blog

    Lightning veteran defenseman Anton Stralman did not participate in team practice for the third straight day.

    But at least Stralman was back on the ice.

    Stralman lightly skated and stickhandled on his own Sunday in a red non-contact jersey while his group practiced on the other sheet of ice at the Ice Sports Forum. Stralman had not skated in the first two days of practice, with the team calling him day-to-day. The Lightning hasn't' disclosed what ails the Swede....

    Anton Stralman was back on the ice Sunday but did not participate in practice.
  7. Lightning's Irma evacuation: 148 people, 14 animals, some business as usual

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When the Lightning's rookie tournament charter to Nashville last weekend became a Hurricane Irma evacuation flight, it made for a surreal scene.

    Owner Jeff Vinik invited players and staff members to get their families out of harm's way. And family apparently included animals. There were three cats and seven dogs on the Boeing 737, with captain Steven Stamkos' 100-pound Swiss Mountain Dog, Trigger, curled into a coach seat before takeoff. ...

    Head shot of Times staffer Joe Smith. Joe Smith is the Tampa Bay Lightning beat writer for the sports department. Staffer mug shot taken in Times studio on Tuesday (06/20/17).
  8. Esposito on Drouin: 'I didn't think he wanted to be here'

    Blog

    Many Lightning fans got their first up-close look at touted defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev during Saturday's Fan Fest at Amalie Arena.

    There are likely some fans that still lament losing dynamic wing Jonathan Drouin, dealt to Montreal for Sergachev in late June.

    But Lightning founder Phil Esposito reassured fans they're going to end up liking this trade on Tampa Bay's side.

    "Drouin is a fabulous player," Esposito said Saturday in a Q&A in front of fans between practice at Amalie Arena. "Personally I didn't think he wanted to be here. I saw it in his eyes, the way he played. I thought (GM Steve Yzerman) made the right move. (Drouin) is going to love being in Montreal, that's where he's from. But he has no idea the pressure that's going to be on him if he doesn't produce. He has no idea....

    "(Jonathan) Drouin is a fabulous player," Phil Esposito said. "Personally I didn't think he wanted to be here. I saw it in his eyes, the way he played."
  9. Lightning journal: Jeff Vinik feels 'pretty good' about getting outdoor game in Tampa Bay (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning owner Jeff Vinik told commissioner Gary Bettman the first time they met that every time they saw each other, he would ask about Tampa hosting an All-Star Game.

    It worked. This season's game is at Amalie Arena in January. So now Vinik's focus is on bringing an outdoor game to the area, something that would likely involve Raymond James Stadium. And Vinik said he likes the Lightning's chances....

    DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik says that every time he sees commissioner Gary Bettman, he asks about Tampa Bay getting an outdoor game.
  10. Jeff Vinik likes Lightning's chances for outdoor game

    Blog

    Lightning owner Jeff Vinik told NHL commissioner Gary Bettman the first time they met that every time they saw each other, he'd ask about Tampa hosting an All-Star Game.

    It worked, with Tampa hosting the 2018 All-Star Game in January at Amalie Arena. So now Vinik's focus is on bringing an outdoor hockey game to the area, which would likely involve Raymond James Stadium.

    And Vinik said he likes their chances....

  11. Lightning journal: Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov happy to be together again

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — When Steven Stamkos saw the training camp practice groups Thursday, he hoped it meant he would be reunited on a line with Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov.

    Stamkos got his wish Friday on the Lightning's first full day of practice at the Ice Sports Forum.

    The trio felt the same chemistry that made them one of the hottest lines in hockey early last season. Stamkos (nine goals, 11 assists) and Kucherov (eight goals, 13 assists) were among the league's top scorers through 17 games until Stamkos hurt his right knee Nov. 15 in Detroit and missed the rest of the season....

    Nikita Kucherov, left, and Steven Stamkos start camp on the same line after ’16 success.
  12. Lightning top line with Stamkos and Kucherov reunites

    Blog

    When Lightning captain Steven Stamkos saw the training practice groups Thursday, he hoped it meant he'd get reunited on a line with Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov.

    And Stamkos, 27, got his wish on Friday's first full day of practice at the Ice Sports Forum.

    The trio felt the same chemistry that made them one of the hottest lines in hockey in the beginning of last seasos. Stamkos (nine goals, 11 assists) and Kucherov (eight goals, 13 assists) were among the league's top scorers through 17 games until Stamkos got hurt Nov. 15 in Detroit....

  13. Lightning journal: Steven Stamkos looks like 'man on a mission' (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA —There have been only rave reviews for how Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has looked — and felt — so far.

    "He's walking around like a man on a mission," coach Jon Cooper said.

    But a truer evaluation will come starting with Friday's first full team practice at Brandon's Ice Sports Forum, not to mention Tuesday's exhibition opener against the Hurricanes at Amalie Arena. Stamkos, 27, won't have any restrictions, but he hasn't played since mid-November surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. The four-time All-Star said he wouldn't mind seeing more preseason action if his knee responds well....

    Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on the ice during an informal practice at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon Tuesday morning (09/05/17). Lightning training camp begins September 14.
  14. Lightning enter camp with 'something to prove'(w/video)

    Blog

    You could sense a determined, motivated group of Lightning players as they reported Thursday for the start of training camp.

    The long summer - a result of missing the playoffs for the first time in four years - gave them a lot to think about.

    And they vowed that it won't happen again....

    "The guys are anxious to get back and prove to ourselves and everyone we're not gonna let what happened last year happen again," Steven Stamkos said.
  15. Hockey's back: Story lines to watch as Lightning opens camp

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev knows there will be plenty of eyes on him during training camp, which opens Thursday at Amalie Arena.

    Sergachev, 19, the touted prospect acquired from Montreal in the Jonathan Drouin trade, will be given every chance to make the Lightning roster.

    And Sergachev — who dropped 10 pounds this summer in an effort to be quicker — is determined to start the season in the NHL. Otherwise, he goes back to juniors another year....

    Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on the ice during an informal practice at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon Tuesday morning (09/05/17). Lightning training camp begins September 14. (Dirk Shadd, Times)