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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. Nikita Kucherov with harsh words for Lightning

    Blog

    Lightning star wing Nikita Kucherov is one of the league’s best sharpshooters. But Wednesday, Kucherov stunningly delivered a pointed dagger from 10,000 miles away at his Tampa Bay teammates and coaches.

    Kucherov, in Russia preparing for next month’s World Championship, told Sovetsky Sport, a Russian daily sports newspaper, that some Tampa Bay players "got their money and stopped working" this season. Kucherov also lamented how often the coaching staff switched lines, wondering why he wasn’t paired often with Jonathan Drouin....

    Nikita Kucherov, preparing to play for Russia at the World Championships, told Sovietsky Sport that some teammates "overstayed" with team, "got their money and stopped working."
  2. Lightning mailbag: On trade possibilities, defensemen, agent changes and more

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — So the Lightning won as many playoff games this year as the Blackhawks, the Western Conference's top seed getting swept in the first round.

    So much for my pre-postseason Stanley Cup pick.

    While Tampa Bay has turned its attention to preparing for June's amateur and expansion drafts, there are plenty of other Lightning story lines to follow. So I took your questions on Twitter for this weekend's mailbag:...

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) battle Ottawa Senators right wing Curtis Lazar (27) for the puck during the second period of Thursday√¢‚‚ ̈‚„¢s (2/2/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Lightning's Victor Hedman finalist for Norris Trophy

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning's Victor Hedman is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, awarded each year to the NHL's best defenseman.

    Two-time Norris winner Erik Karlsson (Senators) and Brent Burns (Sharks) are the other finalists announced Friday.

    "I'm extremely humbled and honored," said Hedman, the first Lightning defenseman to be a finalist for the award. "I look forward to being in Vegas with Brent and my buddy Erik (a fellow Swede)."...

    Victor Hedman is the first Lightning player to be a finalist for the Norris Trophy, given to the league's top defenseman. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]
  4. Victor Hedman a Norris Trophy finalist

    Blog

    The Lightning's Victor Hedman is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top defenseman.

    Two-time Norris winner Erik Karlsson (Ottawa) and Brent Burns (Sharks) are the other candidates.

    Hedman, 26, is coming off a career season, making his first All-Star appearance. He set highs for goals (16), assists (56) and points (72), which ranked second in the NHL among defenseman behind only Burns. In doing so, Hedman set a franchise record for assists by a Lightning defenseman (passing Roman Hamrlik's 49 in 1995-96....

  5. Lightning's Alex Killorn, Brayden Point to play for Canada at worlds

    Lightning Strikes

    Lightning wing Alex Killorn and center Brayden Point on Wednesday were named to Canada's roster for next month's World Championship in France and Germany.

    Coach Jon Cooper is the head coach of Canada.

    Killorn and Point will compete in the tournament against fellow Lightning players wing Nikita Kucherov and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (Russia), and Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman (Sweden)....

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) celebrates his goal after Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser (65) tap the puck passed his goalie Petr Mrazek (34) into his own net to score a goal for Killorn on a Bolts power play during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (03/30/17).
  6. Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman playing for Sweden

    Blog

    It looks like Anton Stralman and Victor Hedman could be paired again for Team Sweden.

    Stralman is joining Hedman on the roster for Sweden's team for next month's World Championships. The two played together at the September World Cup of Hockey.

    While Hedman was a lock for this team, Stralman had said he was waiting to have a few medical issues checked out. He must have been cleared as Stralman is heading to Paris for the tournament....

    Anton Stralman, pictured, is joining Victor Hedman on the roster for Sweden's team for next month's World Championships.
  7. Playoff journal: Leafs giving Caps more than a scare

    Blog

    As I was watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs Monday night, there was one thing that immediately came to mind:

    Thank God I'm not on deadline.

    All four games went into overtime. There were a few blown leads, thrilling comebacks. A couple Cup favorites are on the ropes. Deadline jokes aside, this is why hockey playoffs are the most fun to watch. It's March Madness for two and a half months....

    The Maple Leafs have given the President's Trophy-winning Capitals more than a scare.
  8. Re-signing Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Jonathan Drouin is Lightning's big offseason challenge

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — It's probably the biggest question this offseason for the Lightning:

    Can Tampa Bay afford to sign restricted free agents Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin with its remaining salary cap space?

    "I think we can sign all the players we need to sign," GM Steve Yzerman said.

    I'll believe it when I see it. In a perfect world, the Lightning would retain Palat, Johnson and Drouin. They can be considered core players. Palat is any line's engine. Johnson is a gutsy and clutch, albeit often injured, one-time All-Star. Drouin is one of the most dynamic players in the league....

    Facebook picture of Joe Smith. (John Pendygraft | TIMES)
  9. Lightning's Brayden Point to play for Team Canada

    Blog

    Coach Jon Cooper will have at least one familiar face on his Team Canada roster for next month's World Championships.

    Rookie center Brayden Point, 21, will play for Canada, one of the first few names released for the roster. It's been one heck of a year for Point, who surprirsed many - including himself - by making the Lightning out of camp.

    Then, as a first-year pro, Point was arguably one of the team's most consistent players, with 18 goals, finishing the season as No. 1 center due to injuries....

    Lightning rookie center Brayden Point, 21, will play for Canada in the World Championships.
  10. Cooper to coach Canada at worlds

    Sports

    Lightning coach Jon Cooper missed the playoffs for the first time in his coaching career.

    But Cooper will still be coaching some very meaningful games this summer.

    Cooper was named head coach of Team Canada for the world championships May 5-21 in Paris and Cologne, Germany. He will lead a staff that includes Gerard Gallant Dave Hakstol and Dave King. Cooper, a Prince George, B.C. native, said he found out after Sunday's 4-2 win over Buffalo in the season finale. Canada has won gold in the past two world championships, and opens play May 5....

    Jon Cooper will coach Team Canada for the first time.
  11. Jon Cooper to coach Team Canada at World Championships

    Blog

    Lightning coach Jon Cooper missed the playoffs for the first time in his coaching career.

    But Cooper will still be coaching some very meaningful games this summer.

    Cooper was named head coach of Team Canada for the World Championships next month in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. He will lead a staff that includes Gerard Gallant Dave Hakstol and Dave King. Cooper, a Prince George, B.C. native, said he found out after Sunday's 4-2 win over Buffalo in the season finale. Canada has won gold in the past two world championships, and opens play May 5....

    Jon Cooper will be the head coach of Team Canada for the World Championships next month in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany.
  12. Lightning's dashed playoff hopes got you down? Try these postseason story lines

    Lightning Strikes

    Lightning wing Alex Killorn said the sting will really sink in when the playoffs open tonight and he's watching on television. ¶ That likely also holds true for Tampa Bay fans, who have grown accustomed to thrilling and tantalizingly fun postseason runs the past two springs. Thousands flocked to watch parties, hundreds greeted players at the airport. It became part of the organization's culture. ¶ "To not have it this year is tough to swallow," coach Jon Cooper said. ¶ Why should you still tune in to the Stanley Cup playoffs? There are plenty of reasons, sizzling storylines and even some former Lightning faces to root for....

    Sidney Crosby’s MVP-like season has the Penguins in position to repeat as the Cup champion.
  13. Lightning offseason plan: Make sure disappointing season doesn't happen again

    Lightning Strikes

    While there were positives to draw upon in the Lightning's remarkable late-season run, the bottom line is it failed its goal of reaching the playoffs.

    For a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, that's a sobering, stinging feeling that will last all summer.

    "We as a team, we got humbled a little bit," general manager Steve Yzerman said.

    As the Lightning heads into a longer-than-expected offseason, the message delivered to players was to not take anything for granted. Even their jobs. Yzerman said there will be roster spots available going into next year, with needs filled internally, through trade or free agency....

    Jonathan Drouin (27) is one of three restricted free agents whom GM Steve Yzerman believes the Lightning can keep.
  14. Yzerman: Lightning was 'humbled' by season

    Blog

    While there were positives to draw upon in the Lightning's remarkable late-season run, the bottom line is it failed its goal of reaching the playoffs.

    For a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, that's a sobering, stinging feeling that'll last all summer.

    "We as a team, we got humbled a little bit," general manager Steve Yzerman said.

    As the Lightning heads into a longer-than-expected offseason, the message delivered to players was to not take anything for granted. Even their jobs. Yzerman said there will be roster spots available going into next year, with needs filled internally, through trade or free agency....

    Steve Yzerman said there will be roster spots available going into next year, with needs filled internally, through trade or free agency.
  15. Steven Stamkos confident he'll get back to old form

    Blog

    Turns out, captain Steven Stamkos' return wasn't as imminent as once thought.

    Stamkos, 27, said Monday that he and the Lightning "got a little bit ahead of ourselves," in terms of when he'd be able to come back. If the playoffs had started today, Stamkos wouldn't have been ready. There wasn't a setback, per se, the injury just didn't progress as quickly as he thought.

    "I don't think it was as close as everyone thought, or maybe we had thought at one time," Stamkos said. "I think we got a little ahead of ourselves. When it came out that it was day-to-day, I don't think it was quite day to day. It was definitely improving, it was at a point where I was out there working hard and getting myself in position if we got in the playoffs, I was going to give myself a chance to be healthy. Obviously it didn't work out."...

    Steven Stamkos said he has no doubt he'll be ready for training camp and 100 percent for next season.