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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. Cooper: Plan, not performance, determines starting goalie


    Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy gets the start tonight against the Senators, his second of the season.

    Coach Jon Cooper said it's just part of the plan to get Vasilevskiy more playing time, and nothing to do with the performance of starter Ben Bishop, who has allowed 11 goals in three games, including four apiece in two.

    "In the time I've been here, I don't think I've ever sat here and said, 'This goalie is playing this way' and I decide not to play him," Cooper said. "Over time the last couple years with Vasy, we've tried to slowly put him in. We're trying to get him minimum one game a week and this is the game."...

  2. Fighting breast cancer gets personal for Lightning radio voice Dave Mishkin, wife Dulcie

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — As the Lightning's longtime radio voice, Dave Mishkin has called hockey games all over the world, from Pennsylvania to Prague.

    But on Feb. 20, Mishkin provided play-by-play from the living room of his Brandon home, where he was needed the most.

    His wife, Dulcie, being treated for breast cancer, slept in another room, zapped from another round of chemotherapy. Their terrier mix, Cleo, kept her company. Daughter Madeleine, 9, was at a dance class; son Eli, 10, was with friends. Mishkin sat at a desk a few feet from their 40-inch television, with producer Matt Sammon scrambling to integrate sound from a live feed in Pittsburgh, where the Lightning was facing the Penguins....

    Dulcie Mishkin, second from right, reads to her children, Eli, 10, third from right, and Madeleine, 9, right, as husband Dave listens.
  3. Guy Boucher not seeking 'revenge' against Lightning


    Guy Boucher said he's asked often, both by media members and people in the street, whether he's circled Saturday's game against the Lightning on his calendar.

    Boucher, fired by Tampa Bay in 2013 after four seasons as head coach, is in his first year with Ottawa.

    The simple answer? Not at all.

    "Maybe it's the distance of the years, I'm very calm and almost cold about it," Boucher said Friday in a news conference in Ottawa. "I don't know how to explain it. It's been too long. I guess if it was last year, or two months ago, and it was all the people I worked with, all the players I had, but I only coached two players. That's it."...

  4. Lightning suffers first loss, 4-0 to Avalanche

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Eventually, playing catch-up was going to catch up with the Lightning.

    Having trailed in each of the first three games — all victories — Tampa Bay took a silver lining in the end result.

    But this time, no relentless rally, no remarkable last-second shot by Steven Stamkos could save Tampa Bay from a 4-0 loss to the Avalanche at Amalie Arena. There was little drama in this one, the sellout crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena beginning to file out with seven minutes left. ...

    Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, left, and Nikita Nesterov aren’t quite as happy as Joe Colborne after an odd-bounce Avs goal.
  5. Lightning ranked No. 1 franchise in sports by ESPN


    Since owner Jeff Vinik bought the Lightning in 2010, he's said his goal was to make it a "world class" organization.

    And on Thursday, the Lightning received a significant validation in its growth, ranked the No. 1 franchise in all of sports in ESPN the Magazine's annual rankings. The rankings measure all 122 teams in the four major pro sports leagues based on categories that "matter most to fans." Tampa Bay was voted No. 1 in sports when it comes to owners and players showing appreciation to fans. Other factors include on-ice success, affordability of tickets, fan experience, front office (getting the most out of money you spend)....

    Lightning owner Jeff Vinik chats with Jackie Dry of Brooksville after autographing her jersey during Fan Fest.
  6. Stamkos says of seemingly impossible goal: No big deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Steven Stamkos had to laugh. So did some of his teammates.

    Of course he did it again.

    The Lightning captain opened Wednesday's practice by re-creating his brilliant final act from Tuesday's 4-3 shootout win over the Panthers. Shortly after taking the ice at Amalie Arena, Stamkos darted below the left circle, near the goalline. He ripped the puck into the top corner of the empty net. It was similar to Stamkos' wild-angled, how-did-he-do-that shot with 5.5 seconds left Tuesday. ...

    Steven Stamkos, who says he practices shooting from this tough angle, scores past Panthers goalie James Reimer to force OT.
  7. Slater Koekkoek reassigned to AHL Syracuse


    Defenseman Slater Koekkoek, a healthy scratch the first three games, was reassigned to AHL Syracuse Wednesday.

    Matt Taormina has been called up, and is expected to be available for Thursday's game against the Avalanche.

    This appears like a move to give Koekkoek a chance to play. Despite making his first opening night roster, the former first-round pick hasn't appeared in the last four games, including the preseason finale. Nikita Nesterov has been the sixth defenseman....

    With the Lightning playing just two games in the next five days, this gives Slater Koekkoek an opportunity to get top minutes for the Crunch this weekend.
  8. Lightning Strikes! podcast: Interview with Brayden Point


    Joe Smith breaks down the start of the Lightning season and interviews rookie Brayden Point, who has had a whirlwind week since making his first opening night roster, in our latest Lightning Strikes! podcast.


    Brayden Point is the 27th player to score a shootout goal before his first NHL goal.
  9. Brayden Point picks up another big 'first'


    With Tuesday's game on the line, the Lightning-Panthers showdown lasting until the sixth round of a shootout, coach Jon Cooper turned to rookie Brayden Point on the bench and told him it was his turn.

    "I've watched him do it in practice," Cooper said. "So that was good enough for me."

    As Point hopped over the boards, he smiled at linemate, veteran Valtteri Filppula, who smiled back, which calmed the 20-year-old down. Point used his trademark speed on the attempt, keeping goalie James Reimer on his heels....

    It's been a whirlwind week for Brayden Point, who made the Lightning opening night roster despite entering his first full pro season.
  10. Lightning earns wild comeback win over Panthers in shootout (w/video)


    TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos has fired a countless number of one-timers in his life, and scored 314 goals in his NHL career.

    But Tuesday's wild-angled blast to force overtime with 5.5 seconds left was tough for even him to top.

    "That was probably one of the better shots of my career," Stamkos said. "It was one of those things where everything executed perfectly."

    What Stamkos loved most was the timing. With that goal, the Lightning stole at least a point, then earned two in a wild and controversial 4-3 shootout win over the Atlantic Division rival Panthers. Tampa Bay is 3-0 to start the season. You can argue it won twice Tuesday....

    Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman works to check Panthers left wing Jussi Jokinen against the glass in the second.
  11. Lightning 'deflated' when Jonathan Marchessault picked Panthers


    When Jonathan Marchessault became an unrestricted free agent in July, the Lightning made a pitch to keep the forward.

    In fact, Marchessault, 25, said Tampa Bay offered a similar two-year, one-way contract to what the Panthers did. 

    "It wasn't about money," he said.

    It was about a chance to play. And Marchessault saw more potential in the Panthers, signing a two-year, $1.5 million deal. Marchessault might have been right, entering Tuesday's game at Amalie Arena as Florida's leading scorer (four points), while playing on a top line with future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr....

    Jonathan Marchessault, right, congratulates Colton Sceviour after Sceviour scored Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.
  12. Ben Bishop competes against Andrei Vasilevskiy, but teaches him too

    Lightning Strikes


    Andrei Vasilevskiy started every workout this summer in Ottawa with 10-15 minutes of puck-handling practice.

    "I'm trying to be like 'Bish,' " he said, smiling.

    And "Bish," Lightning starter Ben Bishop, is happy to help by sharing his expertise as one of the league's best puck-moving goaltenders.

    "We're like one little goalie team," Vasilevskiy said. "He's my teacher, like my coach."...

    Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy played well in last season’s playoffs, including the team’s eventual loss to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference final.
  13. Short shift Q&A with Lightning's Slater Koekkoek


    Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek had a blast doing a Q&A with fans on Twitter during training camp. So we thought we'd give it a shot, tackling several topics with the 22-year-old.

    Times: How did you get the name Slater?
    Koekkoek: My mom drove by "Slater Excavating," it was a gravel pit. She liked the name. Everyone always comes up to me and asked if my parents were "Saved by the Bell" fans. It was not that.

    Times: So you're not a "Saved by the Bell" fan?
    Koekkoek: I loved Save by the Bell. It was one of my favorite shows before school. And Slater is my favorite character.

    Times: Why did you pick No. 29?
    Koekkoek: Two times nine is 18. My birthday is Feb. 18, my mom's is May 18. A bunch of other stuff from my family has happened on the 18th. But Mr. (Ondrej) Palat took 18.

    Times: Favorite TV show?
    Koekkoek: Lost. I just re-started Dexter though. I like that one too.

    Times: Top movie?
    Koekkoek: Probably "The Dark Knight Rises."

    Times: I know you have many superstitions. Any interesting ones?
    Koekkoek: I don't like saying any of them because then I have to switch them. A lot stuff, order of equipment. Everyone always laughs at me, but I have to nap with the curtain's open. I don't like darkness.

    Times: You don't need a "night light" do you?
    Koekkoek: No, oh no.

    Times: Favorite sport other than hockey?
    Koekkoek: Fishing. I love fishing, one of my favorites. Anytime I can go I try to go. I brought all my fishing gear.

    Times: Most famous person you met?
    Koekkoek: I met (producer) Jerry Bruckheimer. At the time, I didn't really know who he was. But you see how many movies he makes, it's pretty cool.

    Times: Band you'd like to be on stage with?
    Koekkoek: That's a tough one. I saw Dierk's Bentley this summer, I'd love to be on stage with him. But maybe AC/DC.

    Times: Any musical talent?
    Koekkoek: I tried to learn guitar once but I gave up. I failed drums in grade 7 in school? I got moved to the concert bells....

  14. Lightning gets second straight comeback win (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There's no panic on the Lightning bench when it falls behind.

    "A calm demeanor," rookie forward Brayden Point said. "You look at the guys in this room, I don't think you're ever really out of a game."

    It's not a surprising trait, considering Tampa Bay is a veteran club coming off back-to-back lengthy playoff runs.

    But captain Steven Stamkos said that maybe it is too confident in its comeback ability. Tampa Bay pulled off another one Saturday, overcoming a two-goal first-period deficit for the second straight game for a 3-2 victory over the Devils at Amalie Arena....

    Center Valtteri Filppula, front, sets off teammate Vladislav Namestnikov and the Amalie Arena crowd with Lightning goal No. 3 in the third period.
  15. Lightning right to break with recent history to keep Point

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Grant Point went online and bought tickets for Thursday's Lightning opener in advance.

    Then he crossed his fingers.

    Point's son Brayden, 20, a talented forward prospect, had an impressive training camp with Tampa Bay. But history wasn't on his side. Since Steve Yzerman took over as general manager in 2010, no first-year pro with AHL eligibility had made the team out of camp. That includes Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn, each of whom first cut his teeth in the minors. "Really, that helped them develop," coach Jon Cooper said....

    Center Brayden Point, a first-year pro with AHL eligibility, made the team out of camp.