Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist

Tom Jones

Tom Jones is the writer and editor for Page Two of 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 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

  1. Lightning's pain is only temporary

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL

    Late in the second period Tuesday night and Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos was zooming all alone into the Montreal zone.

    As the puck worked its way toward him, Stamkos cocked his stick and was about to unleash a wicked one-timer that you just know was going to end up in the back of the net.

    Instead, Stamkos' stick snapped in half and the puck strayed harmlessly into the corner. Stamkos furiously whipped what was left of his splintered weapon against the boards....

    Canadiens goalie Carey Price and teammate Daniel Briere get the best of the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos Tuesday.
  2. Lightning-Canadiens playoff series has been a blur

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL

    Hold on. Wait a second. Stop!

    Just give us a doggone moment, will you?

    If you're a Lightning fan, isn't that what you're thinking right now?

    Throw out the first three games. Give us a do-over. Let's start these playoffs over again.

    This time, you swear, you'll be ready.

    Well, that's exactly what Lightning coach Jon Cooper is thinking, too.

    "It's unbelievable how fast everything happens," Cooper said....

    Lightning coach Jon Cooper, shown during Game 3, says the team was prepared but the series has gotten away quickly.
  3. Bad call ruins stellar Lightning effort

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL

    Maybe it wouldn't have mattered in the end. Maybe the Lightning would have lost anyway.

    After all, it was only one call in a 60-minute hockey game. There was plenty of time before and a lot of time after to see to it that one call would not make a difference.

    One call rarely is the sole reason a team wins or loses any game, and if you're good enough, you should be able to overcome a lousy referee....

    Alex Killorn, left, and Eric Brewer apply pressure as Carey Price goes down during the sequence that leads to a disallowed goal.
  4. Lightning's Kristers Gudlevskis should start Game 3

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL — Desperate teams call for desperate measures.

    And right now the Lightning is one desperate hockey team.

    So here is the desperate measure:

    Turn to another goalie. Turn to the kid. Turn to Kristers Gudlevskis.

    Hey, it's worth a shot.

    What's the worst that can happen? The Lightning loses again? That it has the exact same result as the past two games?

    Have you watched the first two games? Nothing else is working. The Lightning is down 2-0 in this best-of-seven playoff series to the Canadiens, and time is quickly running out to salvage this series and this season....

  5. Loss leaves Lightning full of questions

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    Now what?

    What does the Lightning do now?

    Aside from signing Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr and putting them in a time machine, that is.

    Ankle deep in water to start Friday, the Lightning is now waist deep in rising tides. The 2014 playoff run is about go under, over before it really even got started.

    The Lightning is now down 2-0 and heading off to a hostile building in Montreal for Games 3 and 4....

    Lightning goalie Kristers Gudlevskis prepares to enter in relief in the third as starter Anders Lindback heads to the locker room.
  6. Lightning must switch to playoff mode fast

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    Don't let the closeness of the score fool you.

    Don't be misled that it took extra time to determine a winner.

    And don't for a second think the Lightning was anywhere near the vicinity of being good enough to win Wednesday night's Game 1 of their playoff series against the Canadiens.

    The Lightning got exactly what it deserved. And if it doesn't soon figure out that playoff hockey is not the same as regular-season hockey, it will be getting something else it deserves: an early start to its summer vacation....

    The Canadiens’ P.K. Subban, left, and Steven Stamkos, the Lightning’s best player in the game, scuffle in overtime.
  7. Lightning refuses to listen to doubters

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There's no reason to believe the Lightning has much of a chance in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

    It is starting a backup goalie who has looked every bit like a backup goalie for most of the season.

    It is starting a bunch of rookies whose only NHL playoff experience involves a couch and a remote control.

    Even the guys who have been to the playoffs — veterans such as Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell and Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman — haven't been there in a few years....

    The Lightning's Tom Pyatt gets sandwiched between Montreal Canadiens defensemen Francis Bouillon (55) and Mike Weaver (43) during a game earlier this month in Tampa.
  8. Sports feats to nosh on

    Sports

    We all know the famous records and accomplishments in sports. There's Barry Bonds and his home run records (career, 762; season, 73). There's Emmitt Smith's all-time NFL rushing mark (18,355 yards). There's Brett Favre's touchdown passes record (508). But there are quite a few remarkable statistics that are not officially records, yet might be as surprising and impressive as any official record. Here are five feats that are as fun as they are remarkable:...

    Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers
  9. Ben Bishop's injury puts Lightning's playoff chances on life support

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This could be bad. Real bad. Like season-is-over bad.

    The playoffs haven't even started and already it feels as if the Lightning is on the brink of elimination.

    That's how it feels when you see starting goalie Ben Bishop gingerly skating off the ice. That's how it feels when you learn Bishop is out with what his agent says is an elbow injury.

    He might miss a week, maybe two, maybe more. The Lightning isn't exactly sure. He might miss just long enough for the team to get bounced out of the first round of the playoffs....

    Anders Lindback skates out after being named Tuesday’s No. 1 star for doing the bulk of the work in the shutout of Toronto.
  10. Plenty of love for Lovie Smith among Bucs players

    Bucs

    TAMPA

    Lovie Smith wasn't available Tuesday afternoon at One Buc Place. He was probably trying to see which name — Blake, Teddy or Johnny — looked best on a nameplate above a Bucs locker.

    No matter. There were plenty of others who spent the afternoon bragging about the new Bucs coach.

    Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and newly-demoted quarterback Mike Glennon went on and on about Smith. Lavonte David called him cool. Even kicker Connor Barth was saying how great it was to have Smith in town....

    Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and newly-demoted quarterback Mike Glennon went on and on about Lovie Smith today.
  11. Shooting from the lip

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Funniest rip job

    Turner Sports tried something interesting Saturday during the Final Four.

    TBS carried the two semifinal games with the No. 1 announcing crew of Jim Nantz, Greg Anthony and Steve Kerr.

    But the games were simulcast on TNT and truTV with announcers geared toward each team. Turner called it the "TeamCast." For example, Saturday's Florida-UConn game was televised on TNT with announcers giving a Gators slant, while those calling the game with a UConn perspective were on truTV....

    NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 15:  Former NBA Player Charles Barkley attends the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night during the NBA All-Star Weekend 2014 at The Smoothie King Center on February 15, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
  12. Critics off base of player's paternity leave; the no-Tiger Masters

    TV and Radio

    Anyone who criticized Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for missing the first two games of the season to attend the birth of his child is completely out of line. Talk-radio hosts Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa each took shots at Murphy. Francesa said it was okay for Murphy to attend the actual birth but that he could have hired a nurse to tend to his wife for her recovery from a caesarean section. Esiason said if his wife were pregnant, he would have wanted her to have a C-section before the season started....

    Tiger Woods will miss the Masters because of back surgery.
  13. USF athletic director Mark Harlan rights ship after rough start

    College

    TAMPA — Good thing USF announced a new basketball coach Tuesday. Had it waited one more day, new athletic director Mark Harlan would have been out of suits to wear to the news conference.

    "I'm down to the wire," said Harlan, who has been living on the edge and out of a suitcase since starting his job March 24. "This is my last one. This is it."

    Of course, had this whole hiring thing been done right in the first place, Harlan wouldn't have run out of clothes. All this jazz would have been wrapped up a week ago....

  14. David Price still an ace, and still a Ray

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    He wasn't even supposed to be here.

    David Price was supposed to be on another mound Monday, in another city, on another team.

    He could have been in Southern California or New York City. He probably should have been in Chicago or San Francisco or Texas.

    No one thought he would be here. At Tropicana Field. In St. Petersburg. And, most of all, in a Rays uniform....

    David Price plowed into the eighth, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out six to lead the Rays past Toronto on opening day.
  15. Shooting from the Lip

    TV and Radio

    Best line

    This happens every year. A bunch of college coaches does a bang-up job in the NCAA Tournament, then we start hearing rumors about those coaches jumping to the NBA.

    Florida's Billy Donovan certainly fanned the flame on his rumors recently by saying he is still intrigued by the NBA and is attracted to a job where all he would have to do is think about basketball instead of basketball along with recruiting and players' eligibility and so forth. Kentucky's John Calipari has been linked to the Knicks, who likely will have an opening after the season....

    Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is again in the middle of rumors about college coaches heading to the NBA. He’s linked to the Pistons; he’s “not that stupid,” one TV analyst says.