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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

Email: joesmith@tampabay.com

Blogs:

Lightning Strikes

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  1. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    On the surface, it seems crazy, Tampa Bay parting with wing Jonathan Drouin.

    It's also complicated.

    Here you have a budding star coming off a breakout, 21-goal season. And at 22 years old, he's scratching the surface of his potential.

    Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman believes Drouin can be a point per game player; there were just eight of those in the league last season....

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  2. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp practice.

    That all changed three weeks ago when he became virtual teammates with Lightning forwards J.T. Brown and Tyler Johnson. ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  3. Lightning's Swedes live their dream in Worlds

    Blog

    You could see it in his face.

    Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman screamed as he hoisted the World Championship trophy Sunday afternoon in Cologne, Germany, and it looked like an exhale that was years in the making. Stralman kissed the forehead of Swedish teammate Joel Lundqvist, the joy unmistakable.

    Stralman, 30, who has never won a major championship in the NHL or international stage, earned himself a new label after Sunday's 3-2 shootout win over Canada. Both Stralman and fellow Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman are, for the first time, gold medalists....

    Victor Hedman of Sweden celebrate with his teammates after scoring the opening goal in the gold-medal game against Canada.
  4. Peter Budaj is Lightning's most likely option for Andrei Vasilevskiy's backup

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are important tasks this summer for the Lightning in terms of keeping its own, with Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat restricted free agents.

    But one position Tampa Bay needs to fill is backup goaltender to No. 1 Andrei Vasilevskiy. And if everything works out, it could be filled by the one who ended the season with the Lightning, veteran Peter Budaj. ...

    Peter Budaj, acquired from the Kings in the Ben Bishop trade, can be a free agent July 1. He says he’s interested in staying.
  5. Five Lightning prospects competing for Memorial Cup

    Blog

    The Lightning brass will get their money's worth in Windsor, Ontario this weekend, with five prospects competing in the Canadian Hockey League's Memorial Cup, which begins today.

    "A pretty good stop," says Stacy Roest, the Lightning's director of player development.

    Three prospects play for Erie - forwards Taylor Raddysh, Anthony Cirelli and defenseman Erik Cernak. (Check out this feature on Cirelli). Two more play for Saint Johns's (QMJHL), with Mathieu Joseph and Boko Imama....

    Lightning prospect Anthony Cirelli, who went from undrafted twice in the OHL to a potential two-time OHL playoff MVP. (Courtesy of Matt Mead Photography LLC)
  6. Lightning 'very interested' in bringing Peter Budaj back

    Blog

    There are certainly important tasks this summer for the Lightning in terms of keeping its own, with Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat all restricted free agents.

    But one position Tampa Bay needs to fill is backup goaltender for No. 1 Andrei Vasilevskiy. And if everything works out right, it could be the same one who ended the season with the Lightning, veteran Peter Budaj.

    Budaj, 34, is an unrestricted free agent July 1....

    Peter Budaj, 34, is an unrestricted free agent July 1.
  7. Could a late-blooming prospect become Lightning's 'Captain Clutch'?

    Lightning Strikes

    Rocco Cirelli hopes his son's improbable story could be a beacon of hope for other kids.

    "Maybe they'll realize that it's never the end," he said.

    Lightning prospect Anthony Cirelli, 19, thought his hockey career had ended before it had begun. Passed over twice in the junior Ontario Hockey League draft, the 6-foot center was unknown and unwanted a few years ago. The NHL? That seemed light years away, a pipe dream. ...

    Lightning prospect Anthony Cirelli, who went from undrafted twice in the OHL to a potential two-time OHL playoff MVP. (Courtesy of Matt Mead Photography LLC)
  8. Steven Stamkos feeling 'much better' than end of season

    Blog

    It certainly raised some eyebrows Thursday when a release circulated that Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was scheduled to play in a Canadian Hockey League Alumni Game May 27 in Windsor, Ontario.  

    After all, Stamkos hadn't played since mid-November surgery to repair a torn lateral mensicus in his right knee.

    But Stamkos clarified that he is not playing in the game, saying the organizers put him on the roster without confirming with him. That doesn't mean Stamkos' rehab has hit any snags....

    "Things are going well," Steven Stamkos wrote to the Tampa Bay Times. "Feeling much better than where I was at the end of the season."
  9. Lightning could host 2018 All-Star Game

    Blog

    The NHL All-Star Game could be returning to Tampa Bay for the first time in nearly two decades, the Lightning the leading candidate to host the 2018 event in January at Amalie Arena.

    But what has prevented this from being a done deal is partly potential conflicts with both the world's and city's most iconic events.

    Many of the league's top players - including several Lightning All-Stars - have said they want to compete in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. The fact the NHL's much-debated decision to not participate in the Olympics didn't come until last month delayed the selection process for host of the All-Star Game, which isn't typically played during Olympic years....

    Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning skates against Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
  10. Why Lightning fans should scout the Nashville-Anaheim series

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — If you're a Lightning fan, you should pay attention to this Predators-Ducks Western Conference final.

    Specifically, keep an eye on the blueline.

    GM Steve Yzerman said a priority for next season is getting more offensive punch from his defensemen. And Yzerman said giving up too many scoring chances in the first 50 games was a big reason Tampa Bay missed the playoffs. ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager, Steve Yzerman watches from high above the ice as the Lightning take on the Florida Panthers during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday evening (03/24/15). PHOTO TO PUBLISH with a story on Yzerman by Joe Smith on Sunday 4/12/15. (NOTE: Yzerman was watching from a box next to the broadcast boxes and press box above the 300 level seating at the arena. He was photographed from the catwalk at the start of the game).
  11. Ex-Lightning goalie Ben Bishop signs with Stars

    Lightning Strikes

    Former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop has found a new long-term home, likely enabling him to end his career where it began.

    Bishop, 30, signed a six-year, $29.5 million deal Friday with the Stars, who had acquired his rights from the Kings on Tuesday. Bishop, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist with Tampa Bay, returns to an area where he went to high school (Frisco) and played before college (NAHL's Texas Tornado)....

    Former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop signed a six-year, $29.5 million deal Friday, May 12, with the Stars, who had acquired his rights from the Kings on Tuesday. He's shown here in net against the Edmonton Oilers during second period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Feb. 21, 2016. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  12. Former Lightning star Ben Bishop signs with Dallas Stars

    Blog

    Former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop has found a new long-term home, likely enabling him to end his career where it began.

    Bishop, 30, signed a six-year, $29.5 million deal Friday with the Dallas Stars, which had acquired his rights from L.A. on Tuesday. Bishop, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist with Tampa Bay, returns to an area where he went to high school (Frisco) and played before college (NAHL's Texas Tornado)....

    Ben Bishop signed a six-year, $29.5 million deal Friday with the Dallas Stars.
  13. Ben Bishop deal to Dallas a good fit for both

    Blog

    After a year of uncertainty, former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop might have finally found a long-term home.

    And it feels like a good fit.

    Bishop's rights were traded from the Kings to the Stars Tuesday for a fourth-round pick. Bishop, 30, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent July 1. But if Bishop can work out a long-term deal beforehand, he might have some desired stability before any free agency frenzy begins (and a planned summer wedding)....

    Ben Bishop's rights were traded from the Kings to the Stars Tuesday for a fourth-round pick.
  14. Some tough expansion decisions loom for Lightning

    Blog

    The popular assumption is that the Lightning might lose center Vladislav Namestnikov to Vegas in the June expansion draft.

    It makes sense. Tampa Bay has some tough decisions up front even if it goes with the seven forwards, three defensemen protection list. Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin are locks, unless one of the restricted free agents (Johnson, Palat, or Drouin) is dealt before hand. Ryan Callahan must be protected due to his no-move clause, and there's not a sense - at least not yet - that he's been asked to waive it....

    Vladislav Namestnikov could be someone that would interest Vegas in the expansion draft.
  15. U.S. women's national team training in Tampa

    Blog

    The U.S. women's national hockey team is staying in Tampa.

    USA Hockey announced Friday that the team, starting in September, will move their headquarters and train at the Florida Hospital Center Ice in Wesley Chapel. The team will train there in preparation for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, playing a few exhibitions in the area. This news came on the same day USA Hockey announced the 23 players named to the 2017-18 national team at a NHL Network -televised press conference at Amalie Arena....