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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



Lightning Strikes

  1. Braydon Coburn excited for 'new beginning' with Lightning


    Defenseman Braydon Coburn knows trade rumors are part of playing in Philadelphia, so he had his phone off as he went to sleep the eve of the deadline.

    It wasn't until his wife, Nadine, woke up at 6:30 a.m to tend to their one-and-a-half year-old son Blair that she told her husband to check his phone. Coburn, 30, had been traded to Tampa Bay.

    "I was a little surprised, I was kind of shocked," Coburn said in a phone interview. "I understand it's part of the business. But it's a big new beginning for me. I'm excited."...

    The Lightning was searching for a veteran defenseman, and got one in Braydon Coburn, the longest tenured Flyer who has played in 614 NHL games, including 72 in the playoffs.
  2. Lightning trade Connolly and Gudas, acquire Coburn


    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman got a veteran defenseman he was looking for, but it took some late night deals, and parting with a couple players off his regular roster to do it.

    And Yzerman may not be done, with the deadline at 3 p.m. Monday.

    Tampa Bay traded former first-round pick Brett Connolly to the Bruins for a second-round pick this year and a second-round pick in 2016. The Lightning also acquired Flyers veteran defenseman Braydon Coburn, a left-handed shot, for injured defenseman Radko Gudas, a first and third-round pick....

    The Flyers' Braydon Coburn checks the Columbus Blue Jackets' Alexander Wennberg into the boards during a game last month in Philadelphia.
  3. Lightning players okay if no trade made

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Empty-handed as of late Sunday, the Lightning was going to be working until today's 3 p.m. trade deadline to see if it could find the veteran defenseman it has been searching for.

    Though GM Steve Yzerman has called the chance of a trade "50-50," trade prices continued to be very high Sunday, with the Rangers sending touted forward prospect Anthony Duclair and a 2016 first-round draft pick for Coyotes D Keith Yandle. ...

    NO YOU DON’T: Panthers goalie Al Montoya, who has 20 saves, stops a shot by the Lightning’s Brett Connolly during the first.
  4. Lightning falls to Panthers

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Captain Steven Stamkos minced no words when it came to his disappointment following Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Panthers.

    "It's not acceptable," Stamkos said. "You're not going to win any games in this league playing like that."

    Sure, the score looks respectable because the Lightning showed its trademark fight in scoring twice in the third period to pull within one. But coach Jon Cooper said the game should have never come to that, with a spotty, sloppy effort in the second period digging too deep a hole....

    The game ends with a scrum behind the Panthers’ net. The Lightning finishes with a strong push after pulling within 4-3 on a Tyler Johnson goal with 2:44 left.
  5. Lightning players confident even if no trade


    Just like everyon else, the Lightning players are waiting to see what general manager Steve Yzerman does before Monday's 3 p.m. trade deadline.

    Yzerman is hoping to add a veteran defenseman, saying it's a "50-50" chance. Like captain Steven Stamkos said, every team could use another piece or two to help down the stretch, but Tampa Bay believes it can contend if it stands pat.

    "Every team I've been on, you're happy with your group," said veteran wing Brenden Morrow said. "As much as you try to stay away from reading articles, we've heard if there's a veteran defenseman out there, with the injuries we've had, we could make a trade. And we'd be happy to have that. But all we can really control is what happens on the ice. It's not up to us what goes in, what goes out. But we're happy with our group, we're confident with our group."...

  6. Yzerman: Lightning won't trade just to trade

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — With the trade deadline looming Monday, the Lightning would still like to add a veteran defenseman, preferably a right-handed shot.

    Whether a deal comes to fruition remains to be seen.

    "It's 50-50," general manager Steve Yzerman said Saturday.

    But with the asking prices pretty high so far — veteran Andrej Sekera went for a conditional first-round draft pick and a prospect — Yzerman isn't desperate enough to pay more than he's comfortable with....

    Tampa Bay might be among several teams looking at 27-year-old Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry, left.
  7. Lightning-Panthers capsule preview

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning at Panthers

    When/where: 5, BB&T Center, Sunrise

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Panthers are battling for their playoff lives, just behind Boston for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. … They have been busy making deals, acquiring veteran wing Jaromir Jagr and shipping out forwards Sean Bergenheim (Wild) and Tomas Fleischmann (Ducks). … The Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over the Sabres on Saturday. … This is the first meeting since the Lightning won 3-2 in overtime on opening night, Oct. 9 in Tampa. … Florida's special teams have struggled. Its power play entered Saturday 27th (15.3 percent) and penalty kill 24th (79.7). … Lightning G Ben Bishop, expected to start, is 5-0-0 with a 1.89 goals-against average in five career starts vs. Florida....

  8. Lightning: Steven Stamkos' cool swag; Ben Bishop's cool mask

    Lightning Strikes

    Short shift with C Steven Stamkos

    Must-TiVo TV show: Suits

    Favorite movie: Remember the Titans

    Second-best sport growing up: Baseball. Played shortstop.

    What job you'd have if not in hockey: I'd try to make it in baseball.

    Favorite piece of memorabilia: I've got a Masters flag signed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods....

  9. Intangibles considered in trades, too

    Lightning Strikes


    When former Lightning general manager Jay Feaster acquired defenseman Darryl Sydor at the 2004 trade deadline, it turned into a key piece for the Stanley Cup run.

    Feaster liked the deal right away but felt a lot more comfortable that afternoon after getting a vote of confidence while on the team bus.

    "I was in the front seat right behind the driver," Feaster said. "Our captain, Dave Andreychuk, got on, looked at me, put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed my shoulder. He was just nodding his head with a very serious look on his face....

    Defenseman Darryl Sydor was a key acquisition for the Lightning, made by general manager Jay Feaster near the 2004 trade deadline on the team’s way to its lone Stanley Cup title.
  10. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman: A "50-50" chance he makes a deal


    With the trade deadline looming Monday, the Lightning would still like to add a veteran defenseman, preferably a right-handed shot. 

    Whether a deal comes to fruition remains to be seen.

    "It's 50-50," general manager Steve Yzerman said Saturday.

    But with the prices pretty high so far, veteran defensemen like Andrej Sekera going for a first-round pick and a prospect, Yzerman isn't desperate enough to pay more than he's comfortable with....

  11. Lightning goalie Ben Bishop debuts glow-in-the-dark mask (w video)


    Goalie Ben Bishop debuted his new glow-in-the-dark mask Friday night, and picked up a shutout in a 4-0 win over the Blackhawks.

    “It’s 1-for-1,” Bishop said with a smile.


    The mask was designed by Dave Gunnarsson, whom Bishop has worked with for years. The mask originally just had a small Lightning decal that was glow in the dark, due to some special paint. Bishop requested the rest of the mask, which features lightning bolts, get similar treatment, the blue and white popping out....

    Ben Bishop makes one of his 28 saves as the Lightning shuts out the Blackhawks with a final score of 4 to 0.
  12. Video: Jonathan Drouin's "ridiculous" assist makes ESPN Top-10 plays


    A few Lightning players have called rookie wing Jonathan Drouin a "magician" with the puck.

    Drouin, 19, flashed off those skills with a spectacular assist on Tampa Bay's first goal in Friday's 4-0 win over the Blackhawks. The play even cracked SportsCenter's Top-10 plays Friday night.

    "A pass very few players in this league can make," captain Steven Stamkos said.


    Center Brian Boyle (11) celebrates his goal with right wing J.T. Brown (23) after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) for the first goal of the game during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Friday evening.
  13. Lightning cruises past Blackhawks

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — At least the Lightning knows it can win a playoff-style road game. There was a sea of red at sold-out Amalie Arena on Friday night, with Blackhawks fans staking a claim in the stands bigger than any other opponent's fans have this season.

    "They definitely stood out," Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison said.

    But it was Tampa Bay who took control on the ice, pulling away for an impressive 4-0 victory in front of an NHL Network audience....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Brian Boyle (11) takes the puck to the net Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg (23) during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Friday evening (02/27/15).
  14. Goalie Vasilevskiy has some new moves

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — For rookie G Andrei Vasilevskiy, Wednesday's spot start for AHL Syracuse provided more than game experience during a long break in the Lightning schedule.

    It also served as key practice. Coming off his worst NHL start — allowing five goals on 18 shots in Sunday's 5-4 loss in Colorado — Vasilevskiy, 20, said he watched a lot of video. And he got to experiment new techniques during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to Rochester....

    PUSHBACK: Steven Stamkos, left, fends off Blackhawks defenseman Kyle Cumiskey with a forearm in the first Friday.
  15. Follow Lightning coverage on ScribbleLive tonight


    The Times always tries to bring you the best Lightning coverage.

    And, tonight, we're going to experiment with that we hope will make it even better.

    Follow us on our ScribbleLive stream, and it'll be a one-stop shop for Tweets, photos and analysis from tonight's Lightning-Blackhawks game (7:30 p.m.), which is sold-out at Amalie Arena. Whether that's updates from me, or photos from our Dirk Shadd (@dirkshadd), we'll try to attack every angle. Post-game, we'll have some videos/audio from the lockeroom. Post comments and interact if you'd like....