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. Make-or-break Lightning season for Brett Connolly

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Brett Connolly said it was probably the toughest day in his hockey career.

    It was late last September, and the forward, 2010's No. 6 overall draft pick, was sent down to AHL Syracuse despite having another strong camp with the Lightning.

    General manager Steve Yzerman didn't like doing it, either.

    "I really felt bad," Yzerman said. "Because everything he did on the ice was enough to warrant a spot on the team. Unfortunately, we had guys ahead of him that needed to play."...

    “I have to take another step this year,” says 22-year-old right wing Brett Connolly.
  2. Highlights from Sunday's scrimmage; Stamkos sits


    The Lightning had its first full scrimmage of training camp Sunday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, with many fans coming out to take advantage of one of the few open practices.

    Two of the top attention-getters, captain Steven Stamkos and RW Jonathan Drouin did not participate. Drouin was held out for the second straight day due to a minor upper-body injury, and though he skated on his own before practice, will likely not play in the scrimmage Monday at Amalie Arena....

    Steven Stamkos is healthy, but Sunday was a planned off-day as the Lightning manage the schedule of the star center, who has a surgically-repaired right leg.
  3. Minor injury might keep Lightning's Drouin out of scrimmage

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Those fans expecting to see touted right wing prospect Jonathan Drouin at today's open practice and scrimmage in Brandon might be disappointed.

    Drouin, the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2013, was held out of Saturday's practice due to an upper-body injury. His status is day to day, and though he might not participate in scrimmages the next two days, coach Jon Cooper said Drouin should return sometime this week, including playing in an exhibition game. ...

    HE’S MESHING: Goalie Evgeni Nabokov is one of the veterans acquired in the offseason who are quickly fitting in, coach Jon Cooper says.
  4. Stamkos says leadership is by committee


    Steven Stamkos is the Lightning captain, the face of the franchise and one of the top players in the league.

    And, believe it or not, Stamkos, at age 24, is the longest-tenured Tampa Bay player, having been here since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2008.

    But when it comes to leadership, Stamkos said he has plenty of help, with three former captains on the roster; Eric Brewer (Blues), Brenden Morrow (Stars) and Ryan Callahan (Rangers). While Stamkos carries himself like a captain, and is always available at his locker after wins or losses, he likes having the other veterans chip in....

  5. 1 of 13 children, family a big deal for Lightning's Brian Boyle

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning center Brian Boyle says he has witnessed his share of miracles.

    The first, he jokes, is how his parents, Artie and Judy, handled their finances with 13 children in an Irish-Catholic family in Hingham, Mass.

    "Things just kind of worked out," Brian said, smiling.

    Then there's what Brian calls the "living miracle," Artie, 59, who beat kidney cancer that had been diagnosed as terminal. Diagnosed with metastatic renal cell carcinoma in 1999, Artie, a longtime salesman and former truck company owner, was told he had a 5 percent chance to live. His kidney was removed, but the cancer spread to his lungs. Doctors gave up hope....

    The Boyle family, immediate and extended. Dad Artie is in front of the picture on the wall, mom Judy on his right, then Brian.
  6. Drouin to miss Sunday's scrimmage due to upper-body injury


    Those fans expecting to see touted RW prospect Jonathan Drouin at today’s open practice and scrimmage in Brandon will be disappointed.

    Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, was held out of Saturday’s practice due to an upper-body injury. His status is day-to-day, and though he may not participate in scrimmages the next two days, coach Jon Cooper said Drouin, 19, should return sometime this week and be able to play in an exhibition game....

  7. Stamkos starts with familiar Lightning linemates

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said players were told not to read too much into what groups they practice with or what lines they are on during training camp.

    But Stamkos centering a line with LW Ondrej Palat and RW Ryan Callahan during Friday's first practice wasn't a random selection. The trio played together a little bit last season, and coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos will be paired with several familiar faces during camp before deciding on the top line....

    Lightning coach Jon Cooper conducts drills on the first day of training camp at Amalie Arena. “After each session, I was utterly impressed with everything that went on,” he says.
  8. Picking Stamkos' linemates won't be an "open audition"


    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said players were told not to read too much into what groups they practiced with - or lines they were on - during training camp.

    But the fact Stamkos centered a line with Ondrej Palat and veteran Ryan Callahan during Friday's first practice wasn't a random selection. The trio played together a little bit last season, and coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos will be paired with several familiar faces during camp before deciding the top line....

  9. For Lightning, improved defense key to living up to hype

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Coach Jon Cooper has heard his team is a "chic pick" this season.

    Considering the Lightning's surprise run to third in the Eastern Conference last year, the team opened training camp at Amalie Arena carrying larger expectations.

    Cooper made sure to address the hype in his first meeting with the team Thursday afternoon, telling it "you don't have a right to make the playoffs."...

    Jon Cooper
  10. Stamkos, Bishop healthy for Lightning camp

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — C Steven Stamkos and G Ben Bishop said they'll have no restrictions as they take the ice today for the team's first practice of training camp.

    It's encouraging news for the Lightning, considering its two most important players are coming off serious injuries.

    Stamkos said his surgically repaired right leg has felt great, with "no issues" in Thursday's testing. He missed 45 games last season after breaking the tibia in November....

    Steven Stamkos said his surgically-repaired right leg has felt great. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  11. Cooper: There's "no rush" with Jonathan Drouin


    Lightning coach Jon Cooper can see a pronounced difference in touted  prospect RW Jonathan Drouin from the beginning of last year’s camp to now.

    “He’s leaner, he’s quicker, he’s faster, he seems more mature out on the ice,” Cooper said.

    While Drouin, 19, is likely to make the team - as opposed to getting sent back to juniors - Cooper tried to temper the expectations on the third overall pick from 2013....

  12. Bishop says he won't be held back in camp


    Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was pretty happy with how he performed in throwing the ceremonial first pitch at Wednesday's Rays-Yankees game.

    "I don't know if my velocity was up to speed," he joked. "But my location was pretty good."

    More importantly, Bishop is feeling good physically heading into Friday's first full practice at Amalie Arena. Bishop, who underwent right wrist surgery in April, said he's not quite 100-percent yet, but he's "getting there" and doesn't expect to be limited during camp....

    Ben Bishop doesn't expect to be limited during camp.
  13. Stamkos: Season will be 'tougher' this year


    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos went through an array of testing and photo shoots before getting surrounded by cameras at Thursday's opening of camp.

    "Summer is over," he said, smiling. "It starts tomorrow."

    Stamkos realizes there's high expectations surrounding Tampa Bay, considering its surprising run to the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Many in the media are predicting them to make a deep playoff run, but Stamkos points out the danger in getting too ahead of themselves....

    Lightning center Steven Stamkos is reflected in a mirror as he works on front squats during testing and physicals on the first day of training camp Thursday at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  14. Lightning announce training camp schedule


    The Lightning announced its training camp schedule Wednesday night, with three open practices on tap.

    Tampa Bay opens camp Thursday at Amalie Arena, where there will be physicals and testing. The first full practice is Friday at Amalie Arena.

    The Lightning will move to the Ice Forum in Brandon for an open practice Sunday, starting at 9 a.m. and including a scrimmage from 11:15 a.m,-12. The other open practices are on Sept. 27 Fan Fest (scrimmage) and Oct. 1 in Estero.

    The current camp schedule is below and is subject to change....

  15. Story lines for Tampa Bay Lightning training camp

    Lightning Strikes


    What a difference a year makes.

    Considering how many questions surrounded the Lightning before last season — from who its goalie (and captain) would be to how many rookies would make the team — Tampa Bay opens training camp today at Amalie Arena with a lot more clarity.

    It has its No. 1 goalie in Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop, a healthy — and happy — captain in Steven Stamkos, and a returning young core that has many pundits predicting the Lightning to be among the best in the Eastern Conference. ...

    DIRK SHADD   |