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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. Tyler Johnson expected to be ready for training camp

    Blog

    While there was some bad news for the Lightning on Friday - with goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy out 2-3 months following vascular surgery - there was an encouraging report on another key player.

    All-Star center Tyler Johnson, who broke his right wrist in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, is expected to be ready when training camp opens Sept. 17, general manager Steve Yzerman said today.

    "It's a slow healing injury, but throughout the summer it's progressing fine," Yzerman said. "We hope he'll be ready to go."...

    All-Star center Tyler Johnson broke his right wrist in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.
  2. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy out 2-3 months

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning was expected to be the envy of many this season with its goaltending glut, an established starter in Ben Bishop backed up by prized prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy, a future No. 1.

    But Tampa Bay may soon be the one wanting more, with Vasilevskiy, 21, expected to miss two to three months after having surgery Thursday to remove a blood clot near his left collarbone. Vasilevskiy arrived in Tampa this week reporting swelling in his upper arm, later diagnosed as a type of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome considered rare among hockey players....

    Andrei Vasilevskiy will miss two to three months after surgery.  [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  3. Vasilevskiy's condition "unusual" among hockey players

    Blog

    The condition that led Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to undergo vascular surgery on Thursday isn't entirely rare, with 1,000-2,000 cases in the United States each year.

    But the type of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome that led to a blood clot in Vasilevskiy's left collarbone isn't typically found in hockey players.

    "It's unusual," said Dr. Karl Illig, who performed Vasilevskiy's surgery at Tampa General Hospital. "It's something that's most often seen in baseball pitchers, swimmers, and tennis players. But certainly, if you're an athlete and muscular, it becomes much more likely."...

    if this condition is ignored, it can lead to quite a bit of disability, said Dr. Karl Illig, who performed Andrei Vasilevskiy's surgery at Tampa General Hospital. But if treated in 14 days, which appears to be the case with Vasilevskiy, it can be fixed.
  4. Vasilevskiy out 2-3 months after vascular surgery

    Blog

    Andrei Vasilevskiy was expected to get an increased role this season, the prized prospect playing more games as backup goaltender to starter Ben Bishop.

    But when Vasilevskiy, 21, arrived in Tampa earlier this week, team doctors noticed swelling in his upper left arm. By Thursday, Vasilevskiy was undergoing vascular surgery to remove a blod clot from his left collarbone, which will put him out 2-3 months. The procedure was to treat a type of Vascular Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, performed by Dr. Karl Illig at Tampa General Hospital....

    When Andrei Vasilevskiy arrived in Tampa earlier this week, team doctors noticed swelling in his upper left arm. By Thursday, Vasilevskiy was undergoing vascular surgery to remove a blod clot from his left collarbone.
  5. No 'reason to panic' yet about Steven Stamkos contract

    Blog

    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said his No. 1 priority this offseason was to sign captain Steven Stamkos to a long-term deal.

    But summer is over, with training camp opening two weeks from today on Sept. 17, and a Stamkos extension doesn't appear to be close to getting done. Warranted or not, this issue willl become a distraction if contract talks linger into the season. 

    But is it time to panic? Not yet....

    In a league where scoring is trending downward, Steven Stamkos is one of just three players to rack up 40 or more goals last season.
  6. Stanley Cup run boosts season ticket sales for Lightning

    Blog

    The Lightning's run to the Stanley Cup Final in June made a significant impact the ticket office.

    Tampa Bay has sold 3,000 new season tickets since the playoff push, putting them up to 13,500 total for the 2015-16 season. The Lightning had 11,500 season ticket members last season. The Lightning lost to the Blackhawks in the final 4-2. About 18,000 filled Amalie Arena to watch Game 6 on the big screen as the team played in Chicago. ...

  7. Lightning Fan Fest set for Sept. 20

    Blog

    The Lightning will hold its annual Fan Fest on Sunday, Sept. 20 at Amalie Arena.

    About 8,000 attended last year's event. Fan Fest is free and open to the public. More details to come.

    Training camp opens Sept. 17. The regular season begins Oct. 8 at Amalie Arena.

    Lightning mascot ThunderBug signs the shirt of Reid Mitchell, 5, as her father, Brett Michell, flattens out the wrinkles during last year's Fan Fest.
  8. Lightning single-game tickets on sale Friday

    Blog

    The Lightning announced today that single-game tickets will be on sale starting Friday at 10 a.m. 

    Tickets can be purchased via tampabaylightning.com or at the Amalie Arena ticket office. A limited number of full and half season packages, as well as 10-game plans,  are available. For more info, call 813-301-6600.

    The Lightning opens the season Oct 8 at Amalie Arena vs the Flyers.  ...

    Rick Jablonski, of Tampa, cheers for the Lightning during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
  9. Lightning hires Brad Lauer as assistant coach

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — As if losing in Game 7 of the Western Conference final against the Blackhawks didn't sting enough in the spring, Ducks assistant Brad Lauer was fired a week later, the only member of Anaheim's staff let go.

    Whether Lauer was a scapegoat or not, it was tough to swallow for the 48-year-old father of two.

    "It's never easy," he said. "But it's part of the business."

    But once Lauer found out in late June that the Lightning was looking for an assistant on coach Jon Cooper's staff, after George Gwozdecky departed for Valor Christian High in Colorado, he made a few calls....

    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 22:  Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau (R), assistant coach Brad Lauer and Ducks players watch the action on the ice against the Detroit Red Wings. March 22, 2013 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
  10. Lightning hires Brad Lauer as assistant coach

    Blog

    The Lightning has hired Brad Lauer to be an assistant under Jon Cooper and presumably work with the power play. 

    General manager Steve Yzerman has said he was considering bringing in another assistant, which would likely focus on improving the power play, which was inconsistent, especially in the playoffs. Lauer, 48, spent the last four seasons with the Ducks, responsible for the power play, which was 28th last season and 22nd in 2013-14. Lauer was fired after the season. ...

    Brad Lauer, 48, spent the last four seasons with the Ducks, responsible for the power play.
  11. Lightning hires Brad Lauer as assistant coach

    Blog

    The Lightning has hired Brad Lauer to be an assistant coach to add to coach Jon Cooper's staff. 

    General manager Steve Yzerman had said he was contemplating bringing in another assistant to work with the power play. Lauer, 48, was responsible for the power play in Anaheim, where he spent the last four seasons before getting fired in the offseason. The Ducks were 28th on the power play last season, 22nd in 2013-14. ...

  12. Lightning's Tyler Johnson on schedule in recovering from broken wrist

    Lightning Strikes

    Lightning center Tyler Johnson interrupted his shortened offseason in Spokane, Wash., to make a quick trip to Tampa on Wednesday.

    But it was for good reason. Johnson, 25, had a checkup with doctors for his broken right wrist and got to finally remove his brace.

    "It's recovering on the time line," Johnson said.

    Johnson got hurt in Game 1 of June's Stanley Cup final when he awkwardly landed on the ice after a hit from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook. The injury significantly hampered the All-Star in the 4-2 series loss....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) in the tunnel before heading onto the ice for the pre game warm up before taking on the New York Rangers for game three of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amalie Arena in Tampa Wednesday evening (5/20/15).
  13. Tyler Johnson hopes to be ready for camp

    Blog

    Lightning center Tyler Johnson interrupted his shortened offseason in Spokane, Wash to make a quick trip to Tampa Wednesday.

    But it was for good reason, as Johnson, 25, had a check-up with doctors over his broken right wrist, getting to finally remove his brace.

    "It's recovering on the timeline," Johnson said.

    Johnson got hurt in Game 1 of June's Stanley Cup final when he awkwardly landed on the ice after a hit from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook. The injury significantly hampered the All-Star in the heartbreaking, 4-2 series loss to Chicago....

  14. Brian Engblom to join Sun Sports' Lightning team

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning knew it would be tough to replace the colorful presence of Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, who entertained and educated fans the past two decades as the team's trusted television analyst.

    But there was plenty of interest, and Tampa Bay landed a well-respected, national broadcaster in Brian Engblom, 60, who on Tuesday was named the new partner for play-by-play man Rick Peckham on Sun Sports telecasts....

    Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, left, who had been calling Lightning games on television since the team's second season in 1993-94, announced early last season that it would be his last in the booth as he transitions to a role on the pregame, postgame and intermission shows. Former NHL defenseman and veteran broadcaster Brian Engblom, right, will be the team's new color analyst for Sun Sports, joining play-by-play man Rick Peckham. [Times files, Tampa Bay Lightning]
  15. Bolts name 'The Chief's' successor: Brian Engblom to take over as color analyst

    Blog

    The Lightning finally found its replacement for "The Chief."

    Former NHL defenseman and veteran broadcaster Brian Engblom will be the Lightning's new color analyst for Sun Sports, joining play-by-play man Rick Peckham.

    "I'm thrillled, it's an awesome opportunity," Engblom told the Times in a phone interview. "I'm still a player at heart. That's what you miss at the national level, being connected to the team. It's a big difference when you do national games. It's that connection to the team, it's being around them all the time, at practice everyday, traveling with them. You really feel part of it."

    Engblom, 60, was working as "Inside the Glass" analyst for NBC Sports Network, and will replace Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, who had been calling Lightning games on television since the team's second season in 1993-94. Taylor announced early last season that it would be his last in the booth as he transitions to a role on the pre, post and intermission shows.

    Taylor and former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk will provide analysis in the studio, with Chris Dingman, another former Lightning player, not expected to return.

    Lightning executive VP Bill Wickett said there were many considered, but "when you get a national broadcaster to join your team locally, it's too good to pass up." Kevin Weekes and Bill Jaffe were believed to be other finalists.

    Engblom, who won three Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, also played for the Kings, Sabres, Capitals and Flames during his 11-year NHL career. He has been in broadcasting for two decades, including stints with ESPN Versus and, most recently, NBC Sports Network. He also did local broadcasts for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005-06, as well as the Jets most recently.

    When Engblom saw an article in December stating that Taylor was leaving the booth, he was immediately interested. Pretty soon after, Engblom did a Lightning game in Pittsburgh for NBC Sports, and spoke with Taylor and Peckham, both of whom he's known for years.

    "I mentioned to Rick not too long after that I'd definitely be interested in that job," Engblom said. "And it started from there."

    Engblom said he's worked a few games with Peckham for NBC and says he's "extremely easy to work with" and expects chemistry to be found quickly.

    "I have zero worries about that," Engblom said. "It'll take us three minutes into our first game to get back to that and after that we'll sail right along."...

    Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, left, who had been calling Lightning games on television since the team's second season in 1993-94, announced early last season that it would be his last in the booth as he transitions to a role on the pregame, postgame and intermission shows. Former NHL defenseman and veteran broadcaster Brian Engblom, right, will be the team's new color analyst for Sun Sports, joining play-by-play man Rick Peckham.