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Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist

Tom Jones

Tom Jones writes columns and television/radio commentary for the Tampa Bay Times' Sports section. He has covered everything from high schools to colleges to professional sports since starting with the St. Petersburg Evening Independent in 1986. After the Independent, Tom worked at the Times (1987-91), the Tampa Tribune (1991-96), the Times again (1996-2000), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (2000-03) and returned for his third stint at the Times in 2003. Though he has covered all sports, Tom is a hockey writer at heart. He covered the Tampa Bay Lightning from its first game in 1992 until moving to Minnesota to cover the Wild for three years. He returned to the Times again to cover the Lightning until taking over as writer and editor for Page Two in 2006. He lists Herb Brooks, Lou Piniella and Wayne Gretzky as the most interesting personalities he has covered and the 2002 Winter Olympics as the best event he has covered. Tom co-hosts a sports talk show weekday mornings from 6-9 on WDAE 620-AM, 95.3-FM. He previously hosted a weekly sports roundtable show on Bright House Sports Network.

Phone: (727) 893-8544

Email: tjones@tampabay.com

Radio talk show (620-AM, 95.3-FM): Listen live

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  1. Lightning's Johnson makes the impossible happen (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Tyler Johnson, the Lightning's smallest player who is playing like a giant in these Stanley Cup playoffs, took a short pass from Nikita Kucherov at the blue line and blazed down the left wing. He lowered a shoulder and made it seem as if Red Wings defenseman Danny Dekeyser had suddenly turned into a statue.

    Just as he was about to plow into Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek, Johnson slammed on the brakes and lifted a quick wrist shot over the right shoulder of Mrazek and into the net. Less than four minutes into Game 6, with elimination staring it dead in the eyes, the Lightning jumped out to a lead....

    Tyler Johnson gets it all started for the Lightning, with a shot past goalie Petr Mrazek 3:47 into the first period in Detroit. Johnson also scored in the second period for a 3-0 lead.
  2. More at stake for Lightning tonight than its season

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT

    Standing on the fourth floor of the team hotel Sunday afternoon, moments after a 35-minute meeting, Lightning forward Brian Boyle said, "We know what is at stake."

    Teammate and defenseman Victor Hedman, just a few feet away and wearing his Rays cap backward, said, "(Tonight) is the biggest game of the season."

    Both are absolutely right. A lot is at stake tonight when the Lightning plays the Red Wings in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series. And of course it is the biggest game of the season for Tampa Bay, which trails the best-of-seven series three games to two....

    The reputations of coach Jon Cooper, left, and star center Steve Stamkos stand to take the most damaging hits if the Lightning makes a second straight first-round playoff exit tonight.
  3. Lightning can't shoot or think straight

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    This series feels over.

    It's not. Not officially.

    The Red Wings have three victories and it takes four to win a series in the Stanley Cup playoffs. But it sure seems as if the life has been squeezed out of the Lightning and that the Red Wings will finally put Tampa Bay away Monday night in Detroit.

    No one saw this coming.

    No one, except the residents of Hockeytown, saw the Lightning losing in the first round to the Red Wings. And certainly not the way it is going down....

    The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos and Jason Garrison sandwich Red Wings left wing Justin Abdelkader during the third period.
  4. Tom Jones: Lightning needs to seize the moment against Red Wings

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — There are plenty of flowery words to describe the Lightning's come-from-behind Game 4 series-saving overtime victory Thursday night in Detroit.

    Amazing. Remarkable. Miraculous. Improbable. Incredible.

    Well, here is one more: meaningless.

    That amazing, remarkable, miraculous, improbable, incredible victory won't mean a thing if the Lightning gives it back this evening in Game 5 at Amalie Arena....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, middle, celebrates with Ryan Callahan as Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) skates off the ice after a Tyler Johnson goal in overtime of Game 4 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff series Thursday in Detroit. Tampa Bay won 3-2 in overtime. [Associated Press]
  5. The Skating Dead finally come alive for Lightning (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT

    The Lightning was dead. This series was over. This season was over.

    Just a few more minutes. Just one more inevitable loss after that and the Lightning was headed off to the next round — the next round of golf, that is.

    But then something strange happened on the way to elimination.

    It wasn't that the Lightning realized it was good. It realized that it wasn't good enough....

    Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek makes a second-period save between the Lightning’s Ryan Callahan, far left, and Nikita Kucherov to protect a 
2-0 lead. But Mrazek gave up two late third-period goals and one to Tyler Johnson 2:25 into overtime.
  6. Hey, Steven Stamkos, it's time to step up

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT

    Time to step up, Steven.

    Time to dominate. Time to take over. Time to gather your teammates, lift them on to your back and say, "Follow me, boys, I'll show you the way."

    Time for you to be what you are: the team's leader and best player. And the time is now. Tonight.

    This is why you're here. This is why you were drafted first overall. These are the moments when you get to prove you are truly one of the elite players in the world....

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos knows what he must do tonight: “I’ve got to be better.”
  7. Lightning players lose their way on the road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT

    Joe Louis Arena was dark save for the lights on all the cellphone screens. Opening faceoff of Game 3 of these Stanley Cup playoffs between the Lightning and Red Wings was still a few minutes away when the chant began.

    "Let's Go Red Wings … Let's Go Red Wings … LET'S GO RED WINGS."

    Louder and louder it grew.

    When the lights came back on and revealed a sea of red jerseys waving white towels, the roar was shaking this old-time hockey barn. ...

    Center Riley Sheahan (15) is mobbed by Red Wings after scoring a power-play goal in the third period to put his team up 2-0.
  8. Valtteri Filppula does little things in big way for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Valtteri Filppula will be right here. He just needs a few moments.

    Lightning practice ended about an hour ago and Filppula will be glad to talk about his new team, his old team and how his new team is playing his old team in these Stanley Cup playoffs. But, before all that, he has something else a little more important to tend to.

    First, a deep-muscle massage then a little work from the chiropractor....

    Lightning center Valtteri Filppula celebrates after scoring the fifth Lightning goal of Game 2, beating Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard in the third period on Saturday at Amalie Arena.
  9. Shooting from the lip: Jameis Winston report not up to Outside the Lines standards

    Sports

    Most disappointing show

    Just last week I sang the praises of ESPN's outstanding Outside the Lines. Then it comes out with one of its weakest efforts. Sunday's show was dedicated to whether or not the Bucs should draft Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and make him the face of their franchise despite questions about Winston's character.

    Worthy topic, poorly executed....

    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 06:  Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles joins his teammates between plays in the 1st quarter against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the ACC Championship game on December 6, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
  10. The stars come out for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    The history of the Stanley Cup playoffs is littered with obscure players who made a name for themselves with unexpected playoff success.

    Right here in Tampa Bay, we've seen little-known players become post­season stars. Ruslan Fedotenko and Sean Bergenheim, for instance.

    While you need everyone to chip in and do their part this time of year, here's the secret to hockey success: If you want to make a deep playoff run, your best players must be your best players....

    Tyler Johnson beats the Red Wings’ Petr Mrazek with his second goal, and the Lightning’s third of the second period.
  11. Game 2 is Lightning's head game (with video)

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON

    Win or lose, the routine is typically the same for NHL coaches after the game.

    Grab a bite to eat, maybe knock back a cold beverage (or two, depending on the result) and, at some point before the next day's practice, dissect the videotape of the game just played.

    The Lightning's Jon Cooper and the Red Wings' Mike Babcock both did just that in the 12 hours or so between Detroit's 3-2 victory in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series Thursday night and each team's practice Friday afternoon....

    "Is our thought process, 'Oh my gosh, we threw our best shot at them and we didn't beat them, so we're going to pick up our ball and go home?' No,'' Jon Cooper said. "We'll be ready, swinging for the fences (Saturday).'' [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  12. Lightning's loss is reality check for fans

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    You didn't think this was going to be easy, did you?

    You didn't think the Lightning would simply show up, leisurely skate around for a couple of hours and skate off with a victory in Thursday night's Game 1 of the playoffs against the Red Wings, did you?

    Actually, many of you probably did. And you know what? You could hardly be blamed for getting a little giddy about your team and a little ahead of yourselves....

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman (6), left, collides with Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek (34) during the first period of game one of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening. (04/16/15). Opening face off is at 7:30pm.
  13. Jones: Last year's disappointment fuels Lightning playoff hopes

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON

    They were here, in this exact spot, one year ago.

    The Stanley Cup playoffs were about to begin, and the Lightning was ready to plow over all comers in a two-month joyride to a championship.

    Despite that messy soap opera with captain Marty St. Louis and the horrific injury to Steven Stamkos, the resilient Lightning put together a 101-point season and thought of itself as a legitimate Cup contender as the playoffs got under way....

    “There’s no question that there’s a different vibe,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper says of this year’s return to the playoffs.
  14. Tom Jones' Two Cents NHL playoff preview

    Lightning Strikes

    How wide open is this year's race for the Stanley Cup?

    Well, consider this: the defending champion Kings didn't make the postseason. Neither did the Big Bad Bruins, the team with the best record in hockey just a season ago. Seven teams that missed the playoffs last season are in this season. That's the biggest turnover in the history of the league.

    So, as the playoffs are set to begin Wednesday, here's a look at what should be a crazy first round....

    Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk was second in the league in goals-against average at 2.07.
  15. Masters leads TV's highs, lows from sports weekend

    Sports

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Worst trend

    When did it become acceptable for golf announcers to openly root for golfers?

    You hear it all the time on all the networks, announcers wanting golfers to do well. Here's an example:

    During Saturday's third round of the Masters, Charley Hoffman had a short putt on No. 16. As the putt was sliding past the hole, CBS's Verne Lundquist (near right) yelled, "Get in there!'' When it didn't, Lundquist let out a disappointed "Awww.''...

    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 30:  President of the United States Barack Obama talks to CBS annoucers Clark Kellogg and Verne Lundquist during a college basketball game between Georgetown Hoyas and the Duke Blue Devils on January 30, 2010 at the Verizon Center in Washington DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)