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. Victor Hedman (hand) could miss a month

    Lightning Strikes

    EDMONTON — Captain Steven Stamkos made one thing clear: The Lightning can't replace Victor Hedman.

    But Tampa Bay will have to try. It will be without its top defenseman for the remaining four games of this trip, and potentially the next month, after Hedman suffered a hand injury in Saturday's 4-2 win over the Canucks. Hedman is back in Tampa getting evaluated. The team on Sunday expected to know more on his status today....

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77), who scored the first goal of the game, on the ice against the Ottawa Senators during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday evening (10/11/14).
  2. Monday night: Lightning-Oilers preview

    Lightning Strikes

  3. Lightning know replacing Hedman a tough task


    Captain Steven Stamkos made one thing clear; the Lightning can’t replace Victor Hedman.

    But Tampa Bay will have to try as it will be without its top defensemen for the rest of this road trip, and potentially the next month, after Hedman suffered a hand injury in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Vancouver. Hedman is back in Tampa getting evaluated, with the team expecting to know more on his status Monday....

  4. Jonathan Drouin recalled by Lightning, could make NHL debut Monday

    Lightning Strikes

    EDMONTON — The Jonathan Drouin era is about to begin.

    The Lightning recalled the touted wing prospect Sunday from his conditioning assignment after just two games with AHL Syracuse. Drouin, 19, the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2013 and the league's top-rated prospect, could make his NHL debut tonight against the Oilers.

    General manager Steve Yzerman said he would talk to coach Jon Cooper and Cooper would decide whether Drouin will play tonight....

    The Lightning recalled Jonathan Drouin Sunday from his conditioning assignment after just two games with Syracuse in the American Hockey League. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  5. Lightning beat Canucks 4-2, but lose Hedman

    Lightning Strikes


    Times Staff Writer

    VANCOUVER - The Lightning was encouraged Saturday night to beat the Canucks 4-2 despite not playing its best game.

    "It wasn't pretty at times, but we found a way," wing Ryan Callahan said. "It was a good road win."

    But it's what Tampa Bay lost that might loom larger going forward, as defenseman Victor Hedman suffered an upper-body injury in the second period, forcing him to miss the rest of the game, and likely the rest of this five-game, 10-day road trip, coach Jon Cooper said....

    Jason Garrison, left, chases down Vancouver’s Zack Kassian during the first period. (AP Photo/Canadian Press)
  6. Jonathan Drouin impresses bosses in AHL

    Lightning Strikes

    VANCOUVER — Touted LW prospect Jonathan Drouin couldn't have scripted his pro debut much better.

    Drouin, 19, in his first game in a conditioning assignment for AHL Syracuse, scored the winning goal and was plus-3 in a 3-2 victory against Springfield on Friday.

    "Coming in and to get the game winner is something special," Drouin, coming back from a fractured right thumb, told reporters after the game. "I just want to be ready when (the Lightning) call me back up.''...

    Forward Jonathan Drouin, in the preseason, had two assists in AHL Syracuse’s 4-2 win over Binghamton on Saturday.
  7. Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Johnson and pickleball; Jagr's fan club; Connolly homecoming

    Lightning Strikes

    Short shift: C Tyler Johnson

    Must-TiVo TV show: The Forgotten. It's a good show; you never know what's going on.

    If I wasn't playing hockey: When I was younger, I wanted to be an anesthesiologist. You're in the surgery room but not quite doing everything.

    Favorite movie: Happy Gilmore. One movie I'll always watch.

    Second-best sport: I like to think pickleball. It's a mix of tennis and pingpong, played with a Wiffle Ball, and we have a court back home in the back yard. It's awesome."...

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (74) skates back to the team after his goal during the second period with center Tyler Johnson (63) against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa on Saturday. Palat and Johnson each scored their debut National Hockey League goals during the game.
  8. Drouin dazzles in debut, but plan remains the same


    Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he watched touted wing prospect Jonathan Drouin score his first professional goal Friday night, in his debut with Syracuse in the American Hockey League.

    It was a beauty. Drouin, 19, stole the puck from a Springfield defenseman at center ice in the third period, raced down the left side and beat goalie Anton Forsberg glove side with a wrist shot, lifting the Crunch to a 3-2 win. ...

  9. Gudas hopes to return Monday


    Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas was encouraged after skating on his own before Saturday's morning skate, saying he hopes to return to the lineup Monday in Edmonton.

    Gudas missed Tuesday's game, and will not play tonight against the Canucks, due to a lower-body injury that he said has nagged him since training camp. It got "really worse" Monday, but has gotten better throughout the week....

  10. Lightning hopes to make early impact on road trip

    Lightning Strikes

    VANCOUVER — Though coach Jon Cooper is one of several members of the Lightning from British Columbia, arriving here Thursday, two days before Saturday's game against the Canucks, was not just to reunite with family and friends.

    Cooper wanted to give his team more time to acclimate to the three-hour time difference and the surroundings as Tampa Bay began a five-game, 10-day road trip. The Lightning came to Vancouver two days early in January, and he believed it really "kick-started" that 3-1 trip....

    “We’ve got to get points here early,” coach Jon Cooper says of the five-game road trip.
  11. Jason Garrison feels at home with Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    VANCOUVER — When defenseman Jason Garrison signed a six-year deal with his hometown Canucks in 2012, he never thought he would end up where he was Friday afternoon, the visitor's locker room at Rogers Arena.

    At least, not this soon.

    Garrison, 29, grew up in nearby White Rock, British Columbia, where his family still lives, and considered playing for Vancouver a "special" situation, which is partly why he picked the Canucks over Tampa Bay in free agency. ...

    Jason Garrison (5), averaging 19:19 of ice time, “is exactly what we thought we were getting,” associate coach Rich Bowness says.
  12. Connolly excited to finally play in Vancouver


    Lightning wing Brett Connolly is no stranger to Rogers Arena, having been to his share of Canucks games growing up in Vancouver Island before moving to Prince George.

    Connolly, 22, said it was where he watched his first NHL game, at age eight, with his favorite player wing Markus Naslund.

    But Connolly is thrilled to finally get a chance to play at Rogers Saturday night, with a dozen friends and family there to see it, including his parents, who flew down from Prince George....

  13. Lightning-Canucks preview

    Lightning Strikes

  14. Lightning will decide Thursday if Drouin goes on rehab assignment


    It looks like Jonathan Drouin's wait for his NHL debut could be a little longer.

    The Lightning will decide by Thursday morning whether the touted wing prospect will do a two-week conditioning assignment with Syracuse in the American Hockey League. Drouin, 19, out since Sept. 18 with a right thumb fracture, has practiced with the team the past few weeks, but has not participated in contact drills or line rushes....

  15. Blog