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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


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

  1. NHL makes right call not to suspend Lightning's Brian Boyle (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes


    Brian Boyle is not going to be suspended. Nor should he be.

    The NHL got it right. But don't tell the Islanders that.

    Despite the expectation — some might call it more like the begging or wishful thinking — of Islanders coach Jack Capuano that he should be suspended, the Lightning center will play in Friday's Game 4 despite The Hit.

    The Hit has been all the buzz from Brooklyn to Long Island after the Lightning's heart-pounding, come-from-behind, 5-4 overtime victory in Tuesday's Game 3 of the second-round playoff series....

    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03:  Brian Boyle #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning scores the game winning goal at 2:48 of the first overtime against Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Barclays Center on May 03, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  The Lightning defeated the Islanders 5-4 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 634358301
  2. Lightning takes Islanders' blows, then delivers Game 3 knockout (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — You can't kill 'em. You just can't kill 'em.

    The team that never says die refused to die Tuesday in Brooklyn.

    You can check them — legally or otherwise. You can hit them — clean or dirty. You can try to intimidate them with your words and physical play.

    But you just cannot kill them.

    "That was a gritty win for our team," Lightning center Tyler Johnson said....

    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03: Thomas Hickey #14 of the New York Islanders is checked by Victor Hedman #77 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period  in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Barclays Center on May 03, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 634358301
  3. Jones: With Lightning, Victor Hedman's stature only grows

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — Monday afternoon at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman zooms behind his own net, scoops up the puck and makes a mad dash up the ice.

    A zig. A zag. He has gone 200 feet without even tapping his brakes and, in what seems like the blink of an eye, is now darting into the one place most defensemen don't go. It's the one place most defensemen aren't supposed to go: right smack-dab in front of the opposing goal....

    Victor Hedman has gained responsibility all over the ice as his Lightning career has progressed.
  4. Jonathan Drouin goes from villain to Lightning savior (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — A spoiled brat. That's what he was called. A selfish, arrogant, self-entitled punk. A quitter and a whiner. A rotten, no-good, waste-of-talent know-it all.

    That's what Jonathan Drouin was just a couple of months ago.

    Know what you should call him now? The Lightning's best player.

    No kidding. Jonathan Drouin is Tampa Bay's best player. Bet you never thought you would read that sentence. But it's true. Drouin is the most skilled player the Lightning has, and his dazzling offensive talents were on full display Saturday....

    Jonathan Drouin flips the puck past goalie Thomas Greiss in the first period for his first career playoff goal. And it’s the winner.
  5. Jones: Game 2 almost must-win for Lightning (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes


    Nothing produces more overreaction than the first game of a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series.

    Win Game 1 and everybody thinks you're going on to not only win the series but win the Stanley Cup. Start mapping out the parade route.

    Lose Game 1 and everyone is sure you're going to get swept and just might be the worst playoff team ever. Fire the coach and trade all the players....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) looks on along with center Brian Boyle (11) and defenseman Jason Garrison (5) after he gets beat by New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) to go down 4 to 1 during second period action of game one of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Wednesday evening (04/26/16). Bishop was pulled in favor of Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88).  Times photo -- DIRK SHAD

  6. Jones: Bucs give fans more reason for optimism by drafting Hargreaves


    TAMPA — They're getting there.

    Slowly but surely. Steadily but prudently. They are getting there.

    Sometimes it doesn't feel like it. Nothing comes easy with the Bucs. Everything, it seems, takes a little longer with this franchise.

    But you do get the sense that there is light at the end of the tunnel, hope on the horizon, a reason to be optimistic about tomorrow.

    Two years ago they won a measly two games. They were the worst team in football....

    Vernon Hargreaves gets his photo with commissioner Roger Goodell and a Bucs jersey after being drafted 11th overall.
  7. Rust shows in Lightning's Game 1 loss to Islanders (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Sloppy. Unfocused. Flat.

    Those are words not normally associated with a Lightning team that has spent the past three seasons showing guts, smarts and skill.

    It better find all those latter qualities, and it better find them quickly. Like before Saturday.

    Otherwise, it could find itself in a very big hole that it started digging Wednesday night with a sobering 5-3 loss to the Islanders in Game 1 of its second-round playoff series....

    The long faces of Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24), left,and Tampa Bay Lightning center Brian Boyle (11) tell the story of the long and hard fought their period in which the Lightning made a run at defeating the New York Islanders during the third period of Wednesdsy's (4/27/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders for game one of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
  8. Lightning's Stamkos returns to ice, but … (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There he was. On the ice. Skating. At practice.

    Steven Stamkos, No. 91, the captain, the Lightning's best player.

    Stamkos is back.

    Except, he isn't. Not really. Not yet.

    He wore a red jersey Tuesday, while his Lightning teammates wore blue or white. He stood alone and antsy at center ice, while teammates worked on the power play. He darted around with a puck by himself, while teammates went through drills....

    Steven Stamkos, center, skated with his Lightning teammates during Tuesday’s practice but in a red, noncontact jersey.
  9. Jones: Will playoffs affect Steven Stamkos' contract situation?

    Lightning Strikes

    There was a Steven Stamkos sighting the other night.

    The Lightning captain and leading goal scorer was milling around the locker room after the team's series-ending Game 5 victory against the Red Wings.

    That could be the closest Stamkos gets to the ice again this season.

    Not that anyone has forgotten about Stamkos, who has been out since April 2 with a blood clot. But the Lightning knows that if it's going to win the Stanley Cup this year, it might have to do it without Stamkos. He hasn't been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs, but there's a good chance he won't return....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) leaves Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) on the ice as he breaks towards the net during first period at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/28/16). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  10. Five things we learned about Lightning in Round 1

    Lightning Strikes

    Lightning center Tyler Johnson, struggling with what sounded like flu symptoms, walked gingerly in the short hallway just outside the locker room.

    Inside the locker room, forward Ryan Callahan sat at his stall looking like a guy who had put in a double shift at work. Across the room, Alex Killorn stood with sweat still dripping from his head. Goalie Ben Bishop, too.

    Defenseman Anton Stralman, out of the lineup with a fractured leg, limped ever so slightly down another hall. And captain Steve Stamkos, stunningly out since doctors discovered a blood clot near his right shoulder, stood near the trainer's room in workout gear but still unable to play....

    Lightning players leap from the bench at the end of their first-round series-clinching win over the Red Wings on Thursday. They could have more than a week off before starting their next series.
  11. Lightning earns relaxation time thanks to Game 5 clincher (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — They can lounge around all day, maybe take a nap, catch a little Judge Judy.

    They can sleep in, grab a late lunch, play 18 holes.

    Somebody said something about a beach.

    Yep, the Lightning players can do whatever they want today. What they don't have to do is get on a plane, fly to Detroit, practice and continue their playoff series with the Red Wings.

    They made sure of that Thursday night. The game was ugly. The score was beautiful....

    Right wing Ryan Callahan (24) hugs the star of the night, goalie Ben Bishop, after the Lightning’s Game 5 clincher.
  12. Jones: Mental toughness gives Lightning an edge

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There's a cardinal rule in hockey: Never give up a goal in the first or last minute of a period.

    Those are the kind of goals that break backs and crush spirits. Those are the kind of goals that lose games.

    The Lightning did more than break that rule in Tuesday night's Game 4 of its playoff series against Detroit.

    It broke the rule, crumpled it up into little bitty pieces, stomped on it, lit it on fire and then buried it....

    Andreas Athanasiou #72 of the Detroit Red Wings tries to make a move around Braydon Coburn #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena on April 19, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) 629093527
  13. Jones: Don't mess around, Lightning, finish off the Wings

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Now end it.

    Finish this series. Finish these Red Wings. Knock 'em out and move on to the next round.

    It won't be easy, of course. Besides, the Lightning doesn't know how to do easy. Not this season.

    Did you see Tuesday night's heart-stopping, hold-your-breath and watch-between-your fingers Game 4 victory in Detroit?

    Easy? Not a chance. Tampa Bay had the game won, gave it back and won it again. Heck, it should count for two victories....

    Nikita Kucherov celebrates after one of his two goals for the Lightning, which led 2-0 but needed a late goal from Ondrej Palat to take a 3-1 series lead.
  14. Jones: Revered in Detroit, Steve Yzerman settles in with Lightning

    Lightning Strikes


    Here, inside Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, you can't take even a few steps without running into some sort of reminder of Steve Yzerman.

    His face is plastered on the wall just outside the Red Wings locker room. His name is painted on the corridors throughout the building, recognizing his Stanley Cups and various NHL awards.

    Look left, look right and you're sure to see a photo of him. Look up and there is his name and retired number hanging from the rafters above the ice where he starred for so many years as, with apologies to Gordie Howe, the most popular — and arguably the greatest — player in Red Wings history. Just outside the arena, there's a street named after him....

    From left: Tampa Bay Lightning owner, chairman and governor Jeff Vinik and general manager Steve Yzerman talk while watching players on the ice during a scrimmage at training camp at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon on Saturday morning (09/18/10). [DIRK SHADD, Times]
  15. Someone needs to step up offensively for Lightning (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Just moments after their disheartening Game 3 playoff loss to the Red Wings on Sunday night, Lightning players sat at their lockers inside Joe Louis Arena.

    Quiet. Silent.

    Kind of like they were on the ice for the previous 21/2 hours.

    No noise. No pressure. No threat.

    No chance.

    This first-round playoff series has definitely shifted. The Lightning still leads the series, 2-1, so why does it seem that it's in trouble?...

    Detroit’s Joakim Andersson celebrates after the second-period goal of Andreas Athanasiou (72).