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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. Highs and lows of sports TV's weekend

    TV and Radio

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

    Best coverage

    Yes, it had the benefit of the tournament being played in time-zone friendly Canada, and yes, it had the benefit of having an outstanding American team. Still, Fox's coverage of the Women's World Cup was superb.

    Many were skeptical that Fox would be able to match what ESPN has done with recent World Cups, but the network did itself proud the past month. The studio shows, mostly hosted by capable Rob Stone, were best when former players Alexi Lalas, one of the most honest analysts in the business, and Ariane Hingst were featured. And Fox smartly called upon rules official Dr. Joe Machnik, who pulled no punches in criticizing controversial calls when required....

    Viewers saw another side of Megan Rapinoe in a well-done Fox pregame feature Sunday.
  2. U.S. deserves all our support in World Cup final

    World Cup

    Here's a great story uncovered by ESPN writer Kate Fagan about Abby Wambach, one of the stars of the U.S. women's soccer team.

    When Wambach was a freshman playing at Florida, the Gators took on powerhouse North Carolina in the 1998 national championship game. With underdog Florida holding on to a precarious 1-0 lead over North Carolina, which had won 14 of the previous 16 national titles, Gators coach Becky Burleigh gathered her team during a TV timeout and was searching for just the right final words of encouragement, one last pep talk to get her team to hold on....

    U.S. forwards Abby Wambach, left, and Alex Morgan. Wambach won a national title at Florida.
  3. Jones: Marty St. Louis, always and forever one of Tampa Bay's greats

    Lightning Strikes

    Time to let go of the animosity and the bitterness. Forget the messy ending. Now is the time for appreciation and admiration.

    Now is the time to remember and bid farewell to the sensational career of perhaps the greatest athlete in the history of Tampa Bay sports.

    Marty St. Louis — our Little Engine Who Could, the former Lightning star who led the franchise to its only Stanley Cup and the author of one of the most iconic moments in Tampa Bay sports history — announced his retirement Thursday at age 40, thus ending 16 spectacular seasons that were as unlikely as they were brilliant....

    A tireless worker who constantly had sweat on his brow and his heart on his sleeve, Marty St. Louis was the epitome of a hockey player -- tough, determined, humble and tenacious. [DAN MCDUFFIE | Times (2004)]
  4. Marty St. Louis retires after 16 seasons (with photo gallery)

    Lightning Strikes

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk called him the most important person in franchise history. Another former captain, Vinny Lecavalier, called him the best teammate he has had. Current Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said no other player has influenced him more.

    But former teammate Dan Boyle put it best. He said Thursday was "a sad day."

    Simple, but true. Marty St. Louis, perhaps the greatest player in the history of the Lightning, retired Thursday after 16 NHL seasons. St. Louis, 40, ended his career with the Rangers, but it was his 13 seasons in Tampa Bay that featured the best moments of his career, including a league MVP trophy and the 2004 Stanley Cup win....

    Martin St. Louis celebrates his game-winning goal following an overtime victory over the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  5. 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....

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk is the only 600-goal scorer eligible for the Hall of Fame who hasn’t been voted in.
  6. Lightning's special season ends in Game 6 of Stanley Cup final (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO

    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....

    One of the Lightning Girls, the team’s cheerleaders, helps get Tampa Bay fans pumped up Monday at a Game 6 watch party at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  7. 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.
  8. Lightning left with empty-net feeling in Game 5 loss (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    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.
  9. Must win? Lightning needs to strike in Game 5

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON

    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.
  10. 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....

    As of this moment, Andrei Vasilevskiy appears to give the Lightning its best chance to knock off the Blackhawks, Tom Jones writes. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Lightning's confidence grows as it bolts toward Stanley Cup

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO

    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....

    Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan, right, and center Alex Killorn are part of the reason Tampa Bay goes four lines deep.
  14. Lightning forecast: Stormy, with likelihood of nail-biting (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO

    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....

    The Lightning celebrates its 3-2 victory in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final over the Chicago Blackhawks in the United Center in Chicago on Monday.
  15. Lightning changes its road ways in playoffs

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO

    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.