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. Bishop said it felt like "midseason" in Tuesday start

    Blog

    For the Lightning, one of the biggest questions heading into camp was the health of goalie Ben Bishop, who underwent right wrist surgery in April.

    But Bishop, the Vezina Trophy finalist, was encouraged how he felt Tuesday after playing his first full preseason game, a 5-1 win over the Stars in Dallas. Bishop stopped 21 of 22 shots, saying his wrist was "not an issue."

    "This whole game, I felt like it was midseason," Bishop said. "So it was good. I'm ready to go."...

  2. Jonathan Drouin back on ice in first step toward return

    Lightning Strikes

    DALLAS — Lightning wing prospect Jonathan Drouin has been encouraged by progress with his fractured right thumb, making a small step Tuesday of taking the ice for practice in a red (no-contact) jersey.

    Though Drouin, 19, is still limited — he watched most drills Tuesday — he hopes to be ready by the regular-season opener, Oct. 9 against the Panthers.

    "I'm feeling better," he said. "There's still a little bit of pain, but we're going in the right direction. A couple weeks left and I'm sure I'll be fine by then. Progress has been really good."...

    Though Jonathan Drouin is still limited - he watched most of the drills Tuesday - he remains hopeful he'll be ready by the opener Oct. 9 against the Panthers. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  3. Lightning's Jason Garrison settles into new surroundings

    Lightning Strikes

    DALLAS — Turns out, Jason Garrison is versatile at the blue line — and on the red carpet.

    The new Lightning defenseman joined actor girlfriend Katie Cassidy (Arrow, Taken) last month at New York Fashion Week, catching a few shows and after parties. One day he went stylish with a tux, the next day a simple T-shirt, jeans and a cap.

    "I actually enjoy it," Garrison said. "And I kind of have a sort of interest in that kind of stuff. So it was a good little weekend getaway."...

    Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison (stretches during testing and physicals on the first day of training camp. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times ]
  4. Injured Drouin still hopeful for home opener

    Blog

    Lightning touted wing prospect Jonathan Drouin has been encouraged by the progress with his fractured right thumb, making a small step Tuesday of taking the ice for practice in a red (non-contact) jersey.

    Though Drouin is still limited - he watched most of the drills Tuesday - he's still hopeful he'll be ready by the opener Oct. 9 against the Panthers.

    "I'm feeling better," he said. "There's still a little bit of pain, but we're going in the right direction. A couple weeks left and I'm sure I'll be fine by then. Progress has been really good."...

  5. Lightning to focus on special teams toward end of camp

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — For most of Monday's Lightning practice, the focus was on special teams.

    The power play and penalty kill were mostly set aside in the first week or so in camp when there were 60-plus players. But now that the roster is down to 28, those units will be a major emphasis during this final week.

    "That's a big part of the game," coach Jon Cooper said. "That's something we're going to really focus on in the last three exhibition games, to get a feel for who is working well together, get some combinations."...

    Tyler Johnson noted  that most teams haven't set up their power play and there's more work to be done. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  6. Fight for last Lightning roster spots intensifies

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Instead of heading to France, defenseman Luke Witkowski was getting ready Monday to board a bus to Naples, and he couldn't have been happier.

    Witkowski, 24, survived Saturday's large round of cuts, making him one of 28 players still in Tampa Bay's training camp in Estero for the final week. Twenty-five others had been reassigned to the American Hockey League's Syracuse, which holds its camp in Lyon, France....

    Vladislav Namestnikov, playing in preseason last week against the Predators, played four games for Tampa Bay in 2013-14.
  7. Cooper: "There are spots open"

    Blog

    Instead of heading to France, defenseman Luke Witkowski was getting ready to board a bus to Naples Monday afternoon, and he couldn't have been happier.

    Witkowski, 24, had survived Saturday's large round of cuts, making him one of 28 players still in Tampa Bay's training camp for the final week. Twenty-five others had been reassigned to Syracuse in the American Hockey League, which holds its camp in Lyon, France....

  8. Lightning minor-leaguers head to France for camp

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Coach Jon Cooper said if there ever was a year to get cut by the Lightning in training camp, it's this one.

    That's because those reassigned to AHL Syracuse on Saturday got one heck of a consolation prize: a trip to France on Sunday for a weeklong camp with the Crunch.

    "I think it should bring everyone's morale up rather quickly," Syracuse GM Julien BriseBois said....

    Wing Jerome Samson is among the players reassigned to the Lightning’s AHL Syracuse affiliate in time to spend a week in training camp in France, with sight-seeing in Paris planned.
  9. Big consolation prize: Crunch having camp in France

    Blog

    Coach Jon Cooper said if there was ever a year to get cut by the Lightning in training camp, it’s this one.

    That’s because those reassigned to Syracuse of the American Hockey League Saturday got one heck of a consolation prize; a trip to France Sunday for a week-long camp with the Crunch.

    “I think it should bring everyone’s morale up rather quickly,” Syracuse GM Julien BriseBois said....

  10. Vinik aims to keep Stamkos with Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning owner Jeff Vinik says his goal is to roughly break even while building a team that can compete at the highest level year after year.

    And though Vinik said Saturday the organization is still losing "a little bit of money," he plans to continue spending at or near the salary cap, even as the cap likely will significantly increase from this season's $69 million in the next few years due to a new Canadian television deal. "How lucky am I to be an owner of a professional sports team and a professional hockey league team?" Vinik said. "And I want our fans and myself to enjoy giving our best shot to win."...

    CLASS TIME: Bentley Stanmore, 3, learns how to use a hockey stick at Lightning Fan Fest.
  11. Vinik on spending to cap, keeping Stamkos and being "world class"

    Blog

    Lightning owner Jeff Vinik says is goal is to roughly break even while building a team that can compete at the highest level year after year.

    And while Vinik said the organization is still losing "a little bit of money," he plans to continue his approach of spending at or near the salary cap, even as the cap will likely increase from $69 million in the next couple years due to a new Canadian television deal....

  12. Back in black: Lightning like new alternate jerseys

    Blog

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos figured the fans would like the team's new alternate jerseys, which would make them look "leaner and meaner."

    And judging by the cheers from the 8,000-plus at Saturday's Fan Fest when Stamkos came on the ice in the new black sweater, he was right.

    Tampa Bay tapped into it's history, having used to wear the black jersey, while still keeping the "BOLTS" on the front. The players, at least, liked the look, which will be worn at 13 selected home games this season....

  13. Lightning make next round of cuts, including DeAngelo, Erne

    Blog

    The Lightning made its big round of cuts Saturday afternoon, narrowing it's roster to the 28 it plans to bring to Estero Monday for the final week of training camp.

    As expected, first-round pick D Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia) and forward Adam Erne (Quebec) were sent back to their junior teams, and invitee goalie Peter Mannino was released from his tryout. Then there were 25 reassigned to Syracuse in the American Hockey League, with six having to clear waivers; Mike Angelidis, Mike Blunden, Matt Corrente, J.P. Cote, Philippe Paradis and Jerome Samson. The Crunch leave Sunday for training camp this week in France....

  14. Lightning's Anthony DeAngelo draws Dan Boyle comparisons

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — From the day in June the Lightning drafted defenseman Anthony DeAngelo in the first round through this month's training camp, the comparison to Dan Boyle has been a popular one.

    Assistant coach George Gwozdecky can see it.

    Gwozdecky recruited Boyle to Miami (Ohio) in the mid 1990s, before the right-handed shot eventually blossomed into a play-making, puck-moving defenseman and power-play quarterback for Tampa Bay. Gwozdecky says DeAngelo, 18 — who played 13:40 and was plus-1 in his first NHL exhibition game Friday, a 6-3 win against the Stars at Amalie Arena — has the size (5 feet 11, 173 pounds) and skill set Boyle had at the same age....

    Defenseman Tony DeAngelo, the Lightning’s top draft pick in June, makes his NHL preseason debut against the Stars on Friday. He plays 13:40 and is plus-1.
  15. Lightning's Stamkos is feeling good

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Lightning captain Steven Stamkos took the ice Friday night for his first preseason action this year, he did so looking — and feeling — more like his old self.

    Stamkos said his surgically-repaired right leg feels much better than it did late last season, when he returned after missing 45 games following surgery to repair a broken tibia.

    "I think it's that first couple steps, that explosiveness that is a big part of my game — I definitely feel a lot more comfortable in that regard," Stamkos said. "The skating is an asset of mine, and I thought I was kind of a step (slower) last year even when I did come back....

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos skates during NHL hockey practice in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Stamkos, who broke his leg in November, hopes that he will be able to play with the Lightning and then participate in the Sochi winter Olympic games next month for Canada. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette) NSD106