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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. For retiring Brad Richards, Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup run was 'most fun'

    Lightning Strikes

    Brad Richards briefly paused a phone interview Thursday so he could get his hands free.

    You couldn't blame the former Lightning star. His son, Luca, turns 2 in October, when wife Rechelle is expecting a baby girl to join the burgeoning family.

    "Growing by the minute," Richards said.

    Richards, 36, announced his retirement Wednesday after 15 seasons. The first seven years were spent with the Lightning, including his Conn Smythe Trophy performance in the 2004 Stanley Cup run....

    The high point of Brad Richards’ seven-year Lightning tenure: the 2004 Stanley Cup.
  2. Brad Richards on career: 'I'll cherish all of it'

    Blog

    Brad Richards briefly pauses a phone interview Thursday so he can get his hands free.

    You can't blame the former Lightning star. His son, Luca, turns 2 in October, when wife Rechelle is expecting a baby girl to join the burgeoning family.

    "Growing by the minute," Richards said.

    Richards, 36, announced his retirement Wednesday after 15 seasons. The first seven years were spent with the Lightning, including his Conn Smythe Trophy performance in the 2004 Stanley Cup run....

    Brad Richards, 36, announced his retirement Wednesday after 15 seasons. The first seven years were spent with the Lightning, including his Conn Smythe Trophy performance in the 2004 Stanley Cup run.
  3. Lightning secure another core member after Killorn signs seven-year, $31M deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Wing Alex Killorn said he spoke with Steven Stamkos after the Lightning captain signed his eight-year, $68 million deal June 29.

    In likely leaving money on the table in free agency to remain in Tampa Bay, Stamkos sent a message, Killorn said. Defenseman Victor Hedman followed suit July 1 with an eight-year, $68 million extension.

    "It's something special in Tampa," Killorn said. "Everyone wanted to stay together."...

    Lightning center Alex Killorn, left, battling along the glass against Islanders center Alan Quine during last season’s playoffs, was a restricted free agent. The Lightning drafted him in the third round in 2007. “It’s something special in Tampa,” he says.
  4. Lightning and Alex Killorn agree to seven-year deal

    Blog

    The Lightning has locked up another core player long-term, agreeing with wing Alex Killorn on a seven-year deal which brings a $4.45 million annual average.

    Killorn, 25, who made $2.55 million last season, was a restricted free agent who had filed for arbitration. He's entering his fifth season with the Lightning, having racked up 14 goals and 26 assists in 81 games last year (five, eight, 13 points in playoffs)....

  5. New Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx fits in with Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Of all the fresh faces at last week's Lightning development camp, one of the most important ones will never play in a game.

    New AHL Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx, 48, hired in May, got a chance to make a first impression and evaluate players. Apparently, Groulx's reputation preceded him.

    "I've heard the stories," wing Adam Erne said, smiling.

    The word those who have played for Groulx often use is "strict."...

    Benoit Groulx, head coach, Syracuse Crunch (AHL), left, supervises a Tampa Bay Lightning development camp on Wednesday (6/29/16) at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.
  6. Lightning's Brett Howden follows brother's footsteps to NHL

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — For a ninth-grade paper, Quinton Howden had to come up with 30 goals he wanted to accomplish before he turned 30 years old.

    Many revolved around hockey for Howden, 24, now a forward for his hometown Winnipeg Jets. But one was extra special.

    "Play in the NHL with my brother, Brett."

    So you can imagine the feeling for both brothers when Brett, 18, also a forward, was selected 27th overall by the Lightning in the June 24 draft in Buffalo. Six years earlier, Brett had watched Quinton get picked No. 25 by the Panthers. Quinton was the second person Brett hugged before heading to the stage....

    Center Brett Howden, 18, drafted in the first round this year, sees brother Quinton, 24 and a 2010 first-round pick, as a role model.
  7. Highlights from Lightning prospect 3-on-3 tournament

    Blog

    Lightning prospect Jonne Tammela said he really gained confidence near the end of last season, when he got a brief stint at AHL Syracuse.

    Tammela, 18, a skilled left wing who had been playing in Finland, quickly felt the pro game fit his style perfectly.

    "I felt I had played North American hockey my whole life," Tammela said." It felt so easy to me and natural. I've always been a good skater, the game was faster. It gave me confidence."...

  8. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy signs three-year contract extension

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — By February's trade deadline — and likely sooner — the Lightning will have to make a decision on which goaltender it's keeping long term, Ben Bishop or Andrei Vasilevskiy.

    One of them would have to be exposed — and no doubt would be selected — in June's expansion draft.

    So by signing Vasilevskiy, 21, on Friday to a three-year contract extension worth $3.5 million annually, it looked like Tampa Bay picked him over the more experienced and expensive Bishop, 29, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist who is entering the last year of his deal at $5.95 million....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) cools off during a break in the action in the second period of game game seven of the Eastern Conference final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Thursday, May 26, 2016.
  9. Lightning sign Andrei Vasilevskiy to three-year extension

    Blog

    The Lightning will soon have to make a decision in net, with goalie Ben Bishop entering the final year of his deal and only one goalie allowed to be protected in next year's expansion draft.

    And Tampa Bay has now made a strong commitment to Andrei Vasilevkiy, 21, signing him to a three-year extension Friday worth $3.5 million annually. Vasilevskiy has one year left on his deal at $925,000....

    The Lightning signed Andrei Vasilevkiy, 21, to a three-year extension worth $3.5 million annually.
  10. Lightning lock up Victor Hedman for eight years

    Blog

    After watching captain Steven Stamkos' negotiations go down to the wire, the Lightning wasted no time Friday in locking up another franchise foundation.

    Defenseman Victor Hedman signed an eight-year, $63 million extension ($7.85 million AAV) on the first day he could, exactly one year away from unrestricted free agency. There's a no-trade clause throughout. Agent Peter Wallen told the Times negotiations, which began at last weekend's draft, went "super, super fast," both sides wanting to get it done "badly."...

  11. Lightning signs defenseman Victor Hedman to eight-year extension

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — After watching captain Steven Stamkos' negotiations go down to the wire, the Lightning wasted no time in locking up another franchise foundation.

    Defenseman Victor Hedman on Friday signed an eight-year, $63 million contract extension ($7.875 million annual average) on the first day he was eligible for an extension, exactly one year from when he could have become an unrestricted free agent. He has a no-trade clause throughout the deal....

    The Lightning has signed defenseman Victor Hedman to an eight-year deal worth $7.85 million annually. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  12. Lightning loses Marchessault, signs Bournival

    Blog

    Jonathan Marchessault has signed with the Panthers, a two-year deal at $750,000, per TSN.

    That means the Lightning  lost one of its unrestricted free agents. Marchessault's agent had said there was mutual interest between him and Tampa Bay. But it would seem that Marchessault could get more of a chance to play with the Panthers.

    Marchessault, 26, was a pleasant surprise last season for the Lightning. After being one of the final cuts in camp and clearing waivers, Marchessault made an impact in an early-season callup. He had seven goals and 11 assists in 45 games, albeit a minus-10. His playing time dwindled in the playoffs, appearing in five games. In limbo most of the year, his family of four lived mostly out of a hotel before settling into an apartment in Brandon....

    Jonathan Marchessault could get more of a chance to play with the Panthers.
  13. Yzerman 'confident' Lightning can sign Nikita Kucherov

    Blog

    With captain Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman both locked up for eight more years, the attention turns to another foundation-type player, wing Nikita Kucherov.

    Kucherov, 23, is a restricted free agent, due a big bump from the $700,000 he made last season, when he racked up 30 goals. He'll likely garner in the range of the six-year, $36 million extension Predators forward Filip Forsberg got this week, maybe more....

    Nikita Kucherov, 23, is one of the league's top young stars, and is due a hefty raise from the $700,000 he made last season.
  14. Lightning plans Matt Carle buyout to free salary cap space

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning will buy out veteran defenseman Matt Carle, giving it much-needed salary cap relief heading into the opening of free agency at noon today.

    Carle, 31, was put on buyout waivers by Thursday's 5 p.m. deadline and will be an unrestricted free agent today if he clears.

    Carle was Tampa Bay's highest-paid defenseman last season at $5.5 million, and he was under contract for two more seasons. But his role was declining. He was often a healthy scratch last season, including in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against the Penguins. His buyout would save $3.67 million off the cap each of the next two seasons and be spread out over the next four at a $1.833 million cap hit each season....

    FILE - In this May 16, 2016, file photo, Tampa Bay Lightning's Matt Carle plays during the second period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, in Pittsburgh. A person with direct knowledge of the moves tells The Associated Press that Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle and Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg are among the players on buyout waivers. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Thursday, June 30, 2016,  because the teams didn't announce their decisions. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File) NY169
  15. After stressful stretch, Stamkos 'wanted to stay'

    Lightning Strikes

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a few sleepless nights as he neared today's opening of free agency, which promised to be a sweepstakes for the All-Star center.

    At odd moments, Stamkos, 26, briefly allowed himself to think about playing somewhere other than Tampa Bay as teams made their bids, including his hometown Maple Leafs.

    "It was a very tough decision. It truly was," Stamkos said Thursday on a conference call. "I can't say this past week has been fun. It was pretty stressful, to be honest."...

    Steven Stamkos says the Lightning’s salary cap crunch was a factor in him re-signing for potentially less than he could have gotten elsewhere.