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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. It isn't pretty, but it's a pretty good Lightning win

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    While all of Tampa Bay was going completely bonkers, Tyler Johnson was upset.

    Just eight seconds earlier, the Lightning center hopped over the boards, found his Superman cape and scored a goal on his first shot of the game to give his team the lead, the game and, you would think, this second-round series against the Canadiens.

    The giant scoreboard above the suddenly quaking Amalie Arena said there was 1.1 seconds left in the third period Wednesday. Lightning coach Jon Cooper knew exactly how much time was left because he was watching the clock almost constantly for the final minute....

    Lightning center Brian Boyle goes down along the boards against Canadiens defenseman Greg Pateryn.
  2. Jones: Proud Canadiens should be above these dirty plays, tantrums and whining

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Knocking over an unsuspecting goalie. Using your stick like an ax to chop an opponent across the forearm. Cross-checking guys in the neck, in the throat. Berating referees and the squealing about it afterward. Throwing your equipment. Whining about calls.

    Sounds like scenes from Slap Shot.

    Sadly, however, this isn't the ragtag Charlestown Chiefs we're talking about. It's the normally classy Montreal Canadiens, who have lost their minds and their poise and their dignity in only two games against the Lightning. ...

    Canadiens wing Brandon Prust runs into Lightning goalie Ben Bishop on Sunday, when Game 2 is already decided.
  3. NBC a winner with Kentucky Derby coverage

    Sports

    tom jones' two cents

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

    Best coverage

    This weekend was considered the best of the year in sports. In a rare case, all four North American major pro sports leagues were making news with the NFL draft, the NHL and NBA playoffs, and MLB games. In addition, there was the Kentucky Derby, a significant golf tournament and the so-called "Fight of the Century'' between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao....

  4. Jameis Winston again shows actions, not words, are his problem

    Bucs

    TAMPA

    The new face of the franchise has an easy and alluring smile. He has a voice that is soft yet confident. He has a personality that is charismatic and warm.

    Watch him for a few moments. Listen to his words. He says all the right things. He shows humility and poise, humor and grace. Immediately he engages you. He pulls you in. He makes you want to like him.

    Then you stop. Is this authentic, or is it all an act? Is he being genuine, or is this a carefully rehearsed performance designed to fool you into liking him?...

    Winston says he put this photo on his Instagram account Thursday night  only to thank the person who provided the crab legs for his draft party.
  5. Bucs draft Winston: They'd better be right

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Bucs general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith sounded pretty convincing and completely comfortable when talking about their decision to take Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick Thursday in the NFL draft.

    Great talent on the field, Lovie said. Good person off the field, Licht said. Perfect guy to lead a franchise, both said.

    Tell you what, fellas. You better be right. You better make this work....

    Bucs fans at RayJay, some wearing Jameis Winston’s college No. 5 (he’ll wear No. 3 with Tampa Bay), react at the news that the former FSU Heisman Trophy winner is the No. 1 overall pick.
  6. Jones: Sad day for Gators makes sense for Billy Donovan

    College

    Billy Donovan is the reason for the greatest moments in Gators basketball history. Now he's the reason for its most heartbreaking.

    He's gone. This time for real and this time for good.

    After doing all he could to turn a football school into a basketball one — and coming close to doing so on more than one occasion — Donovan is leaving Gainesville and college basketball for Oklahoma City and the NBA....

    Although Florida hasn't had the kind of success it experienced the past four years, Florida coach Billy Donovan said ESPN's presence is good for the game. [AP photo]
  7. Bolts finally become the ready-for-postseason players (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    You can open your eyes now. Go ahead and exhale.

    The Lightning is still alive.

    It is moving on after Wednesday's thrilling Game 7 victory over the Red Wings.

    For the past week and a half, Tampa Bay gave you doubts and tested your faith as well as your blood pressure. Each game, each night, each shift left you breathless or exhilarated, frustrated or anxious. One moment, the Lightning looked like a team that could be fitted for Stanley Cup rings. The next, it was being measured for coffins....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) is congratulated as his team leaps from the bench to celebrate his shut out in the 2 to 0 Lightning win over the Detroit Red Wings in game seven of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Wednesday. (04/29/15)
  8. Jones: Despite risks, Bucs must draft Jameis Winston

    Bucs

    Jameis Winston stands a rock-solid 6 feet, 4 inches tall and was blessed with a right arm that can throw a football like a missile. Playing quarterback for one of the best football programs in the country, the Florida State star put together a college career that ranks among the greatest of all time.

    He led the Seminoles to a national championship. He won a Heisman Trophy, given annually to the best college football player in the country. He lost only one game in two seasons....

    NFL DRAFT: Bucs have the first pick in Round 1, 8 p.m. today, ESPN, NFL Network.
  9. For Lightning, it's time for Ben Bishop to stand tall

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    The most important member of the Lightning walked down the hallway in a T-shirt and shorts and set his 6-foot-7 frame at an unused locker inside the locker room at Amalie Arena.

    He sat back, crossed his ankles, smiled easily, told a few stories and acted like a guy who had all the concerns of someone about to play Frisbee at the beach. You couldn't tell that he is about to play the biggest hockey game of his life....

    The stakes are highest for goalie Ben Bishop tonight. Play well and lead the Lightning into the next round, he’s a hero. Give up a so-so goal as he has a couple of times in the series and the Lightning loses, and he’s a goat.
  10. 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....

    Lightning center Alex Killorn beats goalie Petr Mrazek unassisted 14:51 into the third period to put his team up 4-2.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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]
  14. 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.
  15. 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....

    If the Lightning is going to win Thursday, it needs Steven Stamkos to lead the team to victory, Tom Jones writes. [AP photo]