Make us your home page

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


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

  1. Dave Andreychuk deserves Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    There are 18 men who decide who gets into the Hockey Hall of Fame. They are good men, all of them.

    The list includes brilliant hockey minds such as Scotty Bowman and Bill Torrey. It includes former superstars such as Luc Robitaille and Igor Larionov. It includes knowledgeable media members such as broadcaster Mike Emrick and longtime Sports Illustrated writer Michael Farber.

    These 18 men know the sport. They know the history of the game. The job they have been assigned is not an easy one, and they take that job very seriously....

    Dave Andreychuk’s postseason record includes the 2004 Stanley Cup championship with the Lightning — presented here to the team captain by commissioner Gary Bettman — and a total of 162 playoff games.
  2. Lightning's special season ends in Game 6 of Stanley Cup final (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes


    One day there will be time for the Lightning to perform the autopsy on the 2015 Stanley Cup final. On that day, the Lightning can dissect what went wrong, how the series was lost, everything it might have done differently.

    But now is not that time.

    Today is simply about disappointment. It's about the heartbreak of coming so close to a lifelong dream and having it ripped from its hands at the final moment. It's about anger and grief and all the rotten stages of letting a championship that was so close slip away....

    Lightning players, including Ben Bishop (30), Cedric Paquette (13), Ryan Callahan (24) and Brian Boyle (11), gather on the ice Monday after Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final in the United Center in Chicago. Monday’s loss was the first time the Lightning had lost three straight games during the playoffs.
  3. Stamkos has to be Lightning's Game 6 hero

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Once again, a season is in the balance and the Lightning needs a hero.

    It needs someone to duck into a phone booth and come out with a cape, ready to fire wrist shots faster than a speeding bullet. It must find a player who is willing to lead the way, to lift his teammates on his back and will them to victory. It needs the game's No. 1 star.

    It needs Steven Stamkos.

    Here we are again: Lightning nation is desperate for a victory and turning its eyes to its best player, its leading scorer, its superstar....

    Lightning center Steven Stamkos, who had the second-most goals in the NHL during the regular season, is in danger of going without a goal during an entire series for the second time in this postseason.
  4. Lightning left with empty-net feeling in Game 5 loss (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes


    The starting goalie is hobbled by an unknown injury to an unknown part of his body.

    The leading goal scorer has a messed up hand. Or wrist. Or shoulder. We're not quite sure.

    The second-leading goal scorer was last seen leaving the ice in major distress after slamming jaw-first into the goal post.

    Practically everyone else on the team would qualify as being, simply, beat up. They are playing with bumps, bruises and a tank that has been running on fumes for quite some time now....

    Lightning goalie Ben Bishop is slow to get up but stays in after being knocked down on a collision with defenseman Victor Hedman that gives the Blackhawks an empty net to score and take a 1-0 lead. It is Bishop’s biggest mistake in his gutsy performance.
  5. Must win? Lightning needs to strike in Game 5

    Lightning Strikes


    Must-win game?

    Well, let's see. It's Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. The series between the Lightning and the Blackhawks is tied at two games apiece. The Lightning is at home, and a loss would mean heading to Chicago in a 3-2 hole.

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos says there are no must-win games unless a team truly has its back against the wall, meaning it has three losses in a series and is one away from having its season come to an end....

    Center Alex Killorn gets the Lightning’s only goal in its 2-1 loss in Game 4. Both Lightning losses in the series have been 2-1.
  6. Jones: Lightning should stick with Vasilevskiy

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Stick with the kid.

    If you're the Lightning and you're suddenly locked in a best-of-three series for all the marbles against the Blackhawks, you might think you can't win a Stanley Cup without your all-everything goalie, Ben Bishop.

    I would suggest that I don't think the Lightning can win the Cup without the kid — Andrei Vasilevskiy.

    It would be a bold move, the unconventional line of thinking, a risky decision that could haunt the franchise for years to come. But as of this moment, Vasilevskiy appears to give the Lightning its best chance to knock off the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup final....

    Rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy, 20, called up from AHL Syracuse in February, has been referred to as the Lightning’s No. 1A goalie.
  7. Game 4 loss doesn't detract from terrific series (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — This is terrific stuff. Just terrific.

    If you can, just for a moment, set aside your rooting interest in this Stanley Cup final between the Lightning and Blackhawks, and appreciate what it is you are watching.

    That's not easy to do, of course, if you're a fan of the Lightning. You're way too wrapped up every shift, every shot and every save to find something this nerve-racking to be that enjoyable. Only after the fact can you sit back and realize what you just witnessed was actually incredibly fulfilling....

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, watching the action Wednesday, says Tampa Bay has had a chance to win every game.
  8. Hairy question for NHL's traditional playoff beards

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — The man who runs NBC Sports had an interesting, yet almost sacrilegious, thought the other day.

    In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus dared suggest that NHL players should shave their traditional playoff beards.

    Is he crazy?

    In case you're new to hockey, there's a tradition that goes back about 40 years or so that players don't shave as long as their team is alive in the playoffs....

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper watches the action Wednesday. His players sport their traditional beards.
  9. Lightning's confidence grows as it bolts toward Stanley Cup

    Lightning Strikes


    It was an absolute bomb of a quote. And it told you everything you need to know at this moment about the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    With just over 3 minutes left in Monday night's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, Lightning forward Cedric Paquette scored the winning goal in Tampa Bay's 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks on hostile turf in Chicago. So after the game, the French-Canadian hero of Game 3 was speaking in his native language and was asked about matching up and shutting down Chicago's big scoring stars....

    With just over 3 minutes left in Monday night's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, Lightning forward Cedric Paquette (back) scored the winning goal in Tampa Bay's 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks on hostile turf in Chicago.  [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  10. Lightning forecast: Stormy, with likelihood of nail-biting (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes


    Three hours before the start of Monday night's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final and wicked weather sideswiped the greater Chicago area.

    Heavy rains, booming thunder and strong winds raced across downtown for an ominous hour.

    Turns out, that was the calm before the storm, which ultimately was the pivotal showdown between the Lightning and Blackhawks.

    Call it a severe Lightning storm: Tampa Bay beat the Blackhawks 3-2 to take a two games to one lead in the best-of-seven series....

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) controls the puck as he's tripped up by Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during the second period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks in the United Center in Chicago, IL on Monday, June 8, 2015.
  11. Lightning changes its road ways in playoffs

    Lightning Strikes


    They will be surrounded by an angry sea of red and white.

    They will be booed, cursed, mocked and jeered. They will be the unwelcomed guests of one of the best teams in hockey — a host that would rather greet them with an elbow to the chops than a pat on the back.

    When the Lightning takes the ice tonight for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final against the Blackhawks at the United Center, it will enter one of the most inhospitable places in the National Hockey League....

    Goalie Ben Bishop is mobbed after his 2-0 Game 7 win in New York that makes Tampa Bay 7-3 on the road in the playoffs.
  12. Lightning gets back into Stanley Cup final with Game 2 victory (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes


    You want the good news or the bad news first?

    If you're a Lightning fan, there was plenty of good news Saturday night in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final. Let's start with the fact that your team is alive and well in its pursuit of a Stanley Cup. It knocked off the Blackhawks in a wild 4-3 victory to even the best-of-seven series at a game apiece. Celebrate that for a moment....

    Lightning center Cedric Paquette, second from left, reacts after scoring the first goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Saturday. The Lightning added three more goals, evening the best-of-seven series at 1-1 before Monday’s Game 3 in Chicago.
  13. Jones: Lightning needs to be aggressor in Stanley Cup final

    Lightning Strikes


    Down 1-0 in the Stanley Cup final and facing a crucial Game 2 tonight at home, the Lightning should think about employing a new strategy to beat the Blackhawks if it wants to survive and win this series.

    Admittedly, it's a bit radical. You might call it out of the box. It's certainly a tad different from what most teams do this deep into the season.


    Try scoring more goals than the other team....

    Alex Killorn and the Lightning scored more goals than any team in the NHL this season. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  14. NBC hockey's voice, Mike Emrick, is best of the best

    Lightning Strikes


    If you're lucky, you have tickets to the Stanley Cup final.

    But if you're really lucky, you don't have tickets to the Stanley Cup final. That way you can listen to NBC's Mike "Doc'' Emrick call these games between the Lightning and Blackhawks.

    Emrick is the Wayne Gretzky of hockey broadcasters. Best of all time. It's not even close.

    Emrick has been doing this for years — more than 40, in fact. But it seems that only very recently has Emrick started receiving his just due as one of the great play-by-play announcers in all of sports....

    NBC’s Mike “Doc” Emrick recently won his third Emmy for play-by-play announcing. “I’m a rink rat,” he says. “This is a fun life.”
  15. Lightning lets Game 1 slip away (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes


    Well, that turned out to be a real bummer.

    Tampa Bay had been waiting for this night for 11 years. And for most of Wednesday evening, it was darn near perfect. The town was the center of the sporting world and its hockey team, the Lightning, was showing that world how the game was played.

    It couldn't have been going any better. It could not have ended much worse.

    About to take a big bite of the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, the Lightning got kicked in the teeth....

    Chicago Blackhawks fans Jason Gilley, center, Raiden Gilley, right, and Nicholas Robles of Valrico are booed by Tampa Bay Lightning fans outside Amalie Arena before Game 1 Wednesday.