TAMPA — General manager Jason Licht was in the Bucs war room during Saturday's fifth round of the NFL draft when he showed coach Lovie Smith a text from his father.
Ron Licht, a University of Nebraska season-ticket holder since 1962, lobbied his son to draft Kenny Bell, the Huskers' all-time leading receiver. Licht, a former Nebraska walk-on, didn't need much convincing.
"That was easy," he said. "We turned the card in right then."...
The Bucs gave rookie quarterback Jameis Winston another offensive weapon, drafting receiver Kenny Bell out of Nebraska in the fifth round (No. 162 overall).
Bell is a 6-foot-1, 197-pound athlete. He was a first-team all-Big Ten selection last season and was the most prolific receiver in Huskers history. He broke school records with 181 career catches and 2,689 receiving yards. ...
Tampa Bay fans should be familiar with Oakland's first pick in the second round — defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr., right. His father, Mario Edwards, played 15 games at cornerback for the Bucs in 2004. Edwards was one of the top high school recruits in the country before becoming a solid contributor at Florida State. The 6-foot-3, 279-pass rusher and No. 35 overall pick will reunite with position coach Sal Sunseri, who was Edwards' position coach at FSU....
TAMPA – The Bucs introduced No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston today with an afternoon news conference.
Some highlights from the former Florida State star quarterback:
* Winston said he chose No. 3 because that was the first jersey number he ever wore, back when he played for the Bessemer Tigers as a child. “I just look at it as a new beginning,” Winston said. Also, add up No. 3 with No. 5 (his number at FSU) and you get No. 8 – his jersey number at Hueytown (Ala). High School. ...
For months, the debate has been about Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota, and the quarterbacks taken with the top two picks will meet in Week 1 when Mariota and the Titans come to Tampa to open the season against the Bucs.
Neither QB is assured of the starting job, but Bucs general manager Jason Licht said that expectation comes with any QB picked at No. 1. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters that he plans for Mariota to start in the opener. ...
TAMPA — If the custom-made $150 Jameis Winston Bucs jersey and the cardboard cutout of Winston's head weren't clear enough signs of who Adam Hoge wanted the Bucs to choose with the No. 1 overall draft pick Thursday night, he had something else to show you.
The Sarasota fan nicknamed "Buc Head" had shaved "Draft Jameis" into the back of his head.
"Why would I not?" Hoge said.
Hoge's method was attention-getting, but his message was nearly unanimous among what the Bucs said were about 20,000 people who flowed into Raymond James Stadium for their draft party....
With the Bucs selecting Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick Thursday, here's a look at some of our previous stories on Winston, dating back to high school:
Jan. 3, 2012: Winston, then a senior in high school, wins pass attack challenge before the Under Armour All-America Game: Quarterback Jameis Winston, a Florida State commit from Hueytown, Ala., won the pass attack, a drill to test throwing accuracy. Winston collected 280 points by hitting moving targets from 20, 30 and 40 yards. Before finishing his day with a 70-yard strike in a distance contest, he turned behind him and roused the support of his fellow All-Americans....
04/30/15 Lightning Strikes
Numbers of the day
Montreal G Carey Price against the Lightning this season: 0-4-1, 16 goals allowed in five games for a 3.47 goals-against average.
Price against the rest of the league: 44-12-5, 114 goals allowed in 61 games, 1.87 GAA.
Wednesday's Game 7 against the Red Wings was the most-watched Lightning game in Sun Sports history, the network said Thursday. It was seen by an estimated 133,046 households. Lightning ratings on Sun Sports were up 5 percent during the regular season from last season. Game 7's national broadcast on NBC Sports Network averaged 978,000 viewers, making it the most-watched cable playoff game of the year to date, NBC said. ...
04/30/15 Lightning Strikes
The Lightning and Canadiens begin their Eastern Conference semifinal tonight in Montreal. Recent history makes its outcome hard to predict. Tampa Bay swept their series during the regular season (4-0-1). The Canadiens swept the Lightning out of last year's postseason in the first round. Here's a breakdown heading into Game 1:
Carey Price, Canadiens
Price is universally regarded as one of the top goalies in the world. "There's no question about that," Lightning wing Ryan Callahan said. Price, 27, is a finalist for the Hart Trophy (league MVP) and is a big reason Montreal had its best regular-season record in more than two decades. He is the first goalie since Ed Belfour in 1990-91 to lead the league in wins (44), goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.933). "He's had a really good year," Lightning center Brian Boyle said. "I'm sure he wants to continue it. We want to try to obviously get to him and make it difficult for him."...
04/30/15 Lightning Strikes
1 Carey Price is really good: There's a reason Montreal's goalie is considered the obvious choice for the Vezina Trophy (top goalie) and Hart Trophy (most valuable player). His 1.96 goals-against average and .933 save percentage were best in the league. Price stopped all 43 shots he faced in the Canadiens' series-clinching Game 6 win against the Senators in the first round on the road. ...
04/29/15 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — Whether Lightning goalie Ben Bishop acknowledged it or not, one of the biggest stories of the series' first six games was the dynamic play of his counterpart, Detroit's Petr Mrazek. The Red Wings rookie shut out the Lightning twice and made one of the top saves of the season.
But with Wednesday night's shutout and 31-save performance, Bishop reminded the league why he's considered one of the game's top young goaltenders....
04/29/15 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — Lightning D Anton Stralman thought he might have had his first goal of the playoffs in the middle of the third period Wednesday.
He appeared to score in Tampa Bay's 2-0 Game 7 win over the Red Wings when he deked a defender and slipped the puck past G Petr Mrazek. But the goal was wiped out because Lightning C Steven Stamkos and Detroit C Riley Sheahan were called for offsetting interference penalties. Stralman said he heard the whistle blow before his shot....
TAMPA – Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said he’s “extremely disappointed” the league suspended him for tonight’s Game 7 against the Lightning but that he put himself in the situation – even if he doesn’t understand the decision.
Kronwall said he hasn’t slept well the last two nights and said it was difficult to hear the decision Tuesday night. ...
TAMPA – The Lightning went through its typical morning skate and media availability today before Game 7. A few notes:
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the absence of Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall won’t affect his team’s preparation or game plan.
“For us, it changes nothing,” Cooper said. “Detroit’s going to dress 20 players. My job is to beat the Detroit Red Wings.”...
04/28/15 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — Niklas Kronwall, the Red Wings' top defenseman, was suspended for tonight's Game 7 against the Lightning for charging RW Nikita Kucherov in Monday's Game 6.
Kronwall logged more than 23 minutes in each of the last four games.
The NHL's Player Safety Department announced the decision Tuesday evening, There was no penalty called when Kronwall left his feet and hit Kucherov's head with his forearm late in the second period, knocking him to the ice, and dislodging his helmet. In a video explanation, NHL Player Safety Department stated that supplemental discipline was warranted due to the force with which the hit was delivered, and the "significant head contact that resulted from Kronwall launching" into Kucherov. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was surprised Kronwall even had a disciplinary hearing, and general manager Ken Holland told reporters he disagreed with the decision....