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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. Morning after: Takeaways from Lightning exhibition

    Blog

    For the Lightning, there was a lot to like in Wednesday's 4-3 exhibition win in Carolina.

    And not just the play of touted defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Sure, Sergachev, 19, delivered with a goal and plus-3 in a team-high 22:16, a great way to start his audition for a spot.

    But other players stood out, too.

    *Forward Adam Erne scored a goal for the second straight game. Both came in front of the net, this one a spin-and-shoot. Erne, who had an extended callup late last season, is in a tough battle to crack the roster....

    The Lightning's Erik Cernak, left, congratulates Adam Erne (73) following Erne's goal against the Carolina Hurricanes.
  2. Mikhail Sergachev begins real Lightning audition vs. Carolina Hurricanes

    Lightning Strikes

    RALEIGH, N.C. — Mikhail Sergachev said he was super nervous early in Wednesday's exhibition debut with the Lightning.

    "I was shaky," he said.

    You can't blame him. The defenseman will have the spotlight on him all preseason, especially after being the centerpiece of the Jonathan Drouin blockbuster deal with Montreal in June. Whether Sergachev makes the team out of camp, as opposed to going back to juniors, is the biggest story line not involving Steven Stamkos' right knee....

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) on the ice during hockey training camp in preparation for the 2017-2018 season in Brandon Friday morning (09/15/17). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  3. Ryan Callahan: Brian Boyle will beat cancer diagnosis

    Blog

    Ryan Callahan has been friends with Brian Boyle for a long-time, the two veterans playing together for seven years between the Rangers and the Lightning.

    So when Callahan, 32, found out a couple days ago that Boyle, 32, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, the news hit him hard.

    "Honestly, just shocking," Callahan told the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday.

    The type of bone-marrow cancer, detected through blood work in Boyle's camp physical, was caught early, and can largely be treated by medication....

    Ryan Callahan spoke with Brian Boyle, pictured, a few days before the news broke Tuesday, and believes he'll win this battle.
  4. Taylor Raddysh among first Lightning camp cuts

    Blog

    Lightning forward prospect Taylor Raddysh was among the first cuts in camp, the team trimming its roster by six on Wednesday.

    Raddysh, 19, will be reassigned to his junior team (Erie Otters), where he racked up 42 goals (109 points) in 58 games last season. Raddysh joined forward Alexey Lipanov, this year's third round pick, who will be heading to Barrie (OHL), Chris Paquette (Peterborough, OHL) and defenseman Oleg Sosunov (Moose Jaw), whom the Times profiled this morning....

    Lightning forward prospect Taylor Raddysh was among the first cuts in camp.
  5. Mikhail Sergachev to debut for Lightning tonight

    Blog

    For touted prospect Mikhail Sergachev, his audition to make the Lightning takes another big step tonight in his exhibition debut in Carolina.

    Sergachev, 19, acquired from Montreal in June in the Jonathan Drouin blockbuster, will be given every chance to make the opening night roster. But Sergachev has to show during the preseason that he can handle the load. If Sergachev isn't on the Lightning roster, he'll have to return to juniors for another year in Windsor....

    Touted prospect Mikhail Sergachev will make his exhibition debut tonight in Carolina.
  6. Cooper on slashing crackdown: 'The game is no fun'

    Blog

    There's no question the NHL has made it an emphasis to crack down on slashing this season.

    "What? I didn't notice," Lightning coach Jon Cooper joked.

    You can't blame Cooper for his sarcasm, especially when it came after nine slashing penalties were called in Tampa Bay's 2-1 loss to Carolina in Tuesday's exhibition opener. It made for 25 minutes of special teams, nearly half the game....

    Adam Erne (73) checks Carolina Hurricanes Jake Chelios (76) into the boards.
  7. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    But Esposito, 75, also shared some high praise, saying Sosunov reminded him of a young Zdeno Chara, the 6-foot-9 Bruins captain.

    Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness, who coached Chara as an Islanders rookie, said Sosunov is a better skater than Chara was at that time. ...

    Lightning 6-foot-8 defenseman Oleg Sosunov competes in the preseason opener. Phil Esposito jokes that Sosunov can reach the ceiling at Amalie Arena.
  8. Cal Foote ready for Lightning exhibition debut

    Blog

    Just three months ago, defenseman Cal Foote was getting his name called in the first round of the NHL Draft.

    And now Foote, 18, is preparing for another milestone, his first NHL exhibition tonight. The Lightning hosts Carolina at 7:30 p.m.

    "Kind of a dream my whole life, my whole childhood," Foote said. "So it’s going to be a fun moment, that’s for sure."...

    Adam Foote, left, said there have been a few eye-opening moments in his first NHL training camp, but is feeling more comfortable every day.
  9. Oleg Sosunov brings intrigue to Lightning exhibition opener

    Blog

    When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked he thought the 6-foot-8 Russian would hit the ceiling at Amalie Arena.

    But Esposito also felt Sosunov reminded him of a young Zdeno Chara, the long-time Bruins defenseman.

    Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness, who coached Chara with the Islanders at the beginning of his career, could see that....

    Oleg Sosunov's ability to skate for his size, his reach, and his style have drawn comparisons to Zdeno Chara.
  10. Former Lightning first-round pick Slater Koekkoek faces make-or-break season

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — This time last year, it was Slater Koekkoek's job to lose.

    Koekkoek, 23, a first-round pick in 2012, was coming off an impressive performance in the run to the Eastern Conference final. But while the smooth-skating defenseman did make his first opening night roster — "a dream come true" — it didn't last long. Koekkoek was a healthy scratch the first week, then sent to AHL Syracuse, where he would spend the second half of the season....

    Slater Koekkoek evolved as a defenseman at AHL Syracuse.
  11. Lightning's Slater Koekkoek: 'I've got something to prove'

    Blog

    This time last year, it was Slater Koekkoek's job to lose.

    Koekkoek, 23, the former Lightning first-round pick, was coming off an impressive performance in the run to the Eastern Conference Final. The smooth-skating defenseman did make his first opening night roster - "a dream come true" - but it didn't last long. After a so-so camp, Koekkoek was scratched the first week, then sent to AHL Syracuse, where he spent the second half of the season....

    Slater Koekkoek faces extensive competition on the blueline, which is at least eight-deep.
  12. Anton Stralman remains sidelined in Lightning camp

    Blog

    Lightning veteran defenseman Anton Stralman did not participate in team practice for the third straight day.

    But at least Stralman was back on the ice.

    Stralman lightly skated and stickhandled on his own Sunday in a red non-contact jersey while his group practiced on the other sheet of ice at the Ice Sports Forum. Stralman had not skated in the first two days of practice, with the team calling him day-to-day. The Lightning hasn't' disclosed what ails the Swede....

    Anton Stralman was back on the ice Sunday but did not participate in practice.
  13. Lightning's Irma evacuation: 148 people, 14 animals, some business as usual

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When the Lightning's rookie tournament charter to Nashville last weekend became a Hurricane Irma evacuation flight, it made for a surreal scene.

    Owner Jeff Vinik invited players and staff members to get their families out of harm's way. And family apparently included animals. There were three cats and seven dogs on the Boeing 737, with captain Steven Stamkos' 100-pound Swiss Mountain Dog, Trigger, curled into a coach seat before takeoff. ...

    Head shot of Times staffer Joe Smith. Joe Smith is the Tampa Bay Lightning beat writer for the sports department. Staffer mug shot taken in Times studio on Tuesday (06/20/17).
  14. Esposito on Drouin: 'I didn't think he wanted to be here'

    Blog

    Many Lightning fans got their first up-close look at touted defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev during Saturday's Fan Fest at Amalie Arena.

    There are likely some fans that still lament losing dynamic wing Jonathan Drouin, dealt to Montreal for Sergachev in late June.

    But Lightning founder Phil Esposito reassured fans they're going to end up liking this trade on Tampa Bay's side.

    "Drouin is a fabulous player," Esposito said Saturday in a Q&A in front of fans between practice at Amalie Arena. "Personally I didn't think he wanted to be here. I saw it in his eyes, the way he played. I thought (GM Steve Yzerman) made the right move. (Drouin) is going to love being in Montreal, that's where he's from. But he has no idea the pressure that's going to be on him if he doesn't produce. He has no idea....

    "(Jonathan) Drouin is a fabulous player," Phil Esposito said. "Personally I didn't think he wanted to be here. I saw it in his eyes, the way he played."
  15. Lightning journal: Jeff Vinik feels 'pretty good' about getting outdoor game in Tampa Bay (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning owner Jeff Vinik told commissioner Gary Bettman the first time they met that every time they saw each other, he would ask about Tampa hosting an All-Star Game.

    It worked. This season's game is at Amalie Arena in January. So now Vinik's focus is on bringing an outdoor game to the area, something that would likely involve Raymond James Stadium. And Vinik said he likes the Lightning's chances....

    DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik says that every time he sees commissioner Gary Bettman, he asks about Tampa Bay getting an outdoor game.