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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. Victor Hedman "very close" to returning; Drouin, Brewer scratched


    Defenseman Victor Hedman is almost ready to return to the Lightning lineup.

    Hedman took another step Wednesday, skating in a regular-colored jersey as he's been cleared for contact. Hedman, out five weeks with a fractured right finger, had been practicing in a red jersey the past couple weeks.

    While Hedman is not playing tonight against the Rangers, Saturday is a possibility.

    "If he's in a regular jersey, he's very, very close," associate coach Rick Bowness said....

  2. How will Lightning fans react to Marty St. Louis' return?

    Lightning Strikes

    "Who cares about the quitter?"

    Justin Evangelisti

    "Will I boo him? No, I don't want to waste my breath and voice; I mean, he didn't even say good-bye."

    David Lubin

    "So, I have a game-worn Stanley Cup finals jersey up in my office signed by MSL. I have signed pucks all by him. I raised my kids with MSL as the role model for how you prepare, complete and not let your physical situation limit you. And I took VERY seriously Marty's place in Lightning history and his position in the community. I was really looking forward to retiring his # and all the retirement stuff....

    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 6: Martin St. Louis #26 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on February 6, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
  3. Marty St. Louis' return reminds of highs and lows

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Marty St. Louis requested a trade last spring, Lightning founder Phil Esposito was one of many who tried to talk him out of it.

    St. Louis, 39, was the captain, having spent the past 13 years becoming one of the more beloved players in Tampa Bay history. Now, he wanted to go.

    "I told him, 'If you stay, you can write your own ticket with this organization after you're done,' " Esposito said. " 'How many years you got (left) Marty? A couple?' He said, 'Well, I'm not sure, but everybody in my family wants to go.' I said, 'Okay.' …...

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning team captain Marty St. Louis knows he may hear his share of boos from fans tonight who were upset how he forced a trade in March. "I'm expecting the worst," St. Louis says, "And hoping for the best." [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  4. Marty St. Louis "expecting the worst" but hoping for best in Tampa return


    When the NHL schedule came out, Marty St. Louis said he looked right away for when the Rangers would be coming to Tampa to face the Lightning.

    "I circled it," he said.

    St. Louis, 39, the former Lightning captain, says it will be a special night. But as St. Louis prepares for his much-anticipated return to Amalie Arena Wednesday, he knows he may hear his share of boos from fans who were upset how he forced a trade in March....

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning team captain Marty St. Louis talks to the media after practice on the ice with his team the New York Rangers on Tuesday as he returns to Tampa for practice leading up to the Rangers vs. Lightning game on Wednesday evening.
  5. Lightning needs to work on faceoffs

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The final 77 seconds of the Lightning's 2-1 win Saturday over the Wild were, well, wild.

    Minnesota had a six-on-four advantage, thanks to a power play and extra attacker, spending the entire time buzzing around the Tampa Bay net.

    "It'd probably have been easier if I would have won one of the draws," center Brian Boyle said.

    But Boyle lost two defensive zone faceoffs to Mikko Koivu, letting the Wild keep possession. Winning those draws was no easy task, considering Tampa Bay was two men short and Koivu is one of the league's best in the dot at 57.3 percent....

    Lightning center Steven Stamkos loses a faceoff against Florida center Vincent Trocheck in a game in March.
  6. What we've learned about Lightning at quarter mark of season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA —The Lightning can light up the scoreboard like few teams in the league.

    But coaches challenged players Saturday morning to win a 2-1 game, the type of drag-out, defensive battle it will encounter during a playoff push. And the Lightning did just that that night, outlasting the Wild 2-1 at Amalie Arena.

    "We blocked shots, we sacrificed," captain Steven Stamkos said. "We found a way to hang on."...

    Goalie Ben Bishop is 12-3-2 in his 17 starts, with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.
  7. Lightning edges Wild

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Of all Alex Killorn's goals, Saturday's winner late in the second period wasn't the most highlight-reel worthy.

    But Killorn did what he was taught to do, take his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame to the net. He got to only the slot by the time Anton Stralman's point shot deflected off his right skate past goalie Darcy Kuemper to lift Tampa Bay to a 2-1 victory over the Wild in front of 19,204 at Amalie Arena. It snapped a two-game losing streak for Tampa Bay (14-6-2), which finished a stretch of 10 games in 17 days 6-3-1....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) work to keep the puck out as Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) works to take down Minnesota Wild center Ryan Carter (18) during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday evening (11/22/14).
  8. Mark Barberio tries to keep his game simple

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — For the first 18 games, D Mark Barberio was mostly a spectator, a healthy scratch in all but three.

    Barberio, 24, knows the drill, having sat for long stretches last season. That helped him mentally prepare for this time around. But as Barberio cracked the lineup Saturday against the Wild for the third time in the past four games, he said he has found that by keeping things simple, he can have success. ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning Mark Barberio (8) (center) celebrates his game winning goal along with his team after beating Nashville Predators goalie Marek Mazanec (39) in the third period during preseason hockey at the Amalie Arena in Tampa (09/23/14).
  9. Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Callahan on AC/DC; Namestnikov on Tonight Show; Stamkos on fighting

    Lightning Strikes

    Short shift With RW Ryan Callahan

    Must-TiVo TV Show: Sons of Anarchy

    Second-best sport: I played soccer growing up. I don't know if I was any good at it.

    Best concert: AC/DC at (Madison Square) Garden. Couple years ago when they did their reunion tour. It was awesome.

    If you weren't a hockey player: I may be a school teacher. My mom was a school teacher. I always looked up to her....

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24)  celebrates scoring the first goal of the game against the Washington Capitals during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday evening (11/01/14).
  10. Mark Barberio, Cedric Paquette back in, Brewer, Namestnikov out


    For the first 18 games, defenseman Mark Barberio was mostly a spectator, a healthy scratch in all but three.

    But Barberio was back in the lineup Saturday night for the third time in the past four games. He said he's learned that by playing a simple game, he's able to perform well despite sporadic action. He's a minus-1 in five games.

    "It just comes with more time in the league," Barberio said. "Maybe I've settled in more, get more poise back there, where last year, when I was coming in I was really jumpy and almost had a bit of happy feet. Kind of tried to do too much this year, letting the game come to me and keep things simple as possible."...

  11. Thank Marty St. Louis for demanding a trade

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Marty St. Louis will make his anticipated return to Amalie Arena on Wednesday night.

    Whether fans decide to boo or cheer is up to them. But what should they also do?

    Thank him.

    It might sound strange, but the Lightning is way better off now — and will be in the future — because it succumbed to St. Louis' trade demands in March.

    Stay with me now. At the time, it hurt, the captain leaving his team in the middle of a playoff push. St. Louis, 39, is arguably the greatest player in franchise history. He won a Hart Trophy and brought a Stanley Cup to Tampa Bay. None of that is forgotten....

    Despite the negative fan reaction over Marty St. Louis' departure, the deal may have set the Lightning up for a bright future. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
  12. Lightning-Wild Saturday night preview

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning vs. Wild

    When/where: 7, Amalie Arena

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Wild has won four in a row, including a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday night. It beat Tampa Bay 7-2 in Minnesota on Oct. 25 in the teams' previous meeting. … Minnesota has scored just one power-play goal in its past 35 attempts on the road. … C Mikko Koivu (illness) may not play for the Wild. … RW Nino Niederreiter leads the Wild with nine goals and is tied for the team lead with 12 points. … Minnesota ranks fifth in penalty kill (88.1 percent). … Lightning LW Alex Killorn has three goals in his past three games. … Tampa Bay is 7-2-1 at home....

  13. Lightning affiliate Syracuse to set U.S. hockey indoor attendance record


    After the Syracuse Crunch became part of the first-ever outdoor game in the history of the American Hockey League in 2010, Crunch owner Howard Dolgon asked the question.

    "What can do we do next," he said.

    Chief Operating Officer Jim Sarosy said, "Why don't we do a game at the Carrier Dome?"

    It was an ambitious dream, considering the Carrier Dome had featured games with some of the best college basketball/football players in its 30-plus year history. It'll host a regional in the NCAA Tournament this season....

  14. Lightning motivated to stop skid at 2

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — It's been nearly a month, but the Lightning hasn't forgotten the beating the Wild handed it the last time the teams met.

    "They tossed us around," coach Jon Cooper said.

    "They pumped us pretty good," defenseman Matt Carle said.

    The Wild thumped Tampa Bay 7-2 on Oct. 25 in Minnesota. And considering Tampa Bay has lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time this season, it enters tonight's rematch at Amalie Arena pretty ticked off....

    ST. PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 25: Marco Scandella #6 of the Minnesota Wild scores a goal against Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the game on October 25, 2014 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
  15. Lightning loses to Leafs

    Lightning Strikes

    TORONTO — Captain Steven Stamkos knew the Maple Leafs would come out "hungry" Thursday night, motivated after back-to-back bad losses.

    The question is, why didn't the Lightning?

    After all, as Stamkos pointed out, Tampa Bay was coming off a rough loss itself, 5-2 to the Islanders on Tuesday.

    But Tampa Bay didn't match Toronto's desperation in a disappointing 5-2 loss that left coach Jon Cooper searching for reasons his team didn't "answer the bell." This is the first time this season Tampa Bay (13-6-2) has lost two straight games in regulation....

    Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier makes one of his 26 saves.