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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. For Tampa Bay, Lightning plays coolest game in town

    Lightning Strikes

    The Bucs. The Rays. The Lightning. • If you're a die-hard Tampa Bay sports fan, those teams are like your children. Ask any parent and they will tell you that they love all their children — with their gifts and flaws, different quirks and personalities — equally. But there is something special about the Lightning. • It is a little more likeable, a little more endearing. This might be an NFL market, and baseball is America's pastime, and hockey isn't everyone's cup of tea, but let's admit it: • The Lightning is Tampa Bay's favorite. • Of course it's easy to favor a winner, and the Lightning is having what could turn out to be a championship season. The Bucs haven't won a playoff game since winning the Super Bowl in January 2003. The Rays never have won a World Series. Right now everyone is caught up in Stanley Cup fever with the Lightning on the verge of playing for the NHL's famed trophy....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) yells defiantly as he celebrates his goal beating New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) for the Lightning fourth goal of the game during second period action of game three of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amalie Arena in Tampa Wednesday evening (5/20/15).
  2. Fascination with overtime hockey anything but morbid

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    Sudden death.

    It's the most dramatic moment in all of hockey. In all of sports, really. Is there anything more exciting, more agonizing, more gripping than sudden death overtime in the Stanley Cup playoffs?

    And the phrase itself — sudden death — is the most provocative in sports. Isn't it fascinating that it is from the perspective of the losing team, not the team that wins?...

    The Lightning celebrates its third OT win of the playoffs, Game 3 vs. the Rangers.
  3. Stamkos at his best in Lightning Game 3 win (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    Steven Stamkos darted into the Rangers zone with very bad intentions and a thirst for blood. You half expected to hear that ominous theme from Jaws.

    Rangers right wing Kevin Hayes circled around the net with the puck, completely unaware that Stamkos was on a mission to do some damage and Hayes was the target.

    Before anyone could yell "Heads-up!" Stamkos blasted into Hayes, sending the Rangers forward crumpling to the ice....

    How did Steven Stamkos impact Game 3? This goal in the first period is just the start of perhaps his best postseason game — ever.
  4. Jones: Victor Hedman puts his stamp on Lightning playoff run

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    The time has arrived. He has arrived.

    Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is no longer the kid with potential. He's no longer a future star.

    When it comes to Hedman, it isn't about "someday'' or "eventually'' or "down the road.''

    Hedman is a star. Right now.

    It's happening right before our very eyes.

    If you've watched the Lightning this season — if you've watched the Lightning in these playoffs — you've seen the maturation and evolution of a hockey player. From boy to man. From prospect to standout....

    Victor Hedman checks the New York Rangers' Marty St. Louis as he attacks the net in front of goalie Ben Bishop during Game 1. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  5. Lightning shows heart, grit in Game 2 win

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK

    Talk all you want about adjustments. Go ahead and dissect matchups. Study line combinations and defensive pairings and all that mumbo jumbo.

    But if you really want to know why the Lightning rebounded from an opening game loss in the Eastern Conference final against the Rangers with a Game 2 victory Monday night, don't try to get inside Tampa Bay's head. You won't find the answers there....

    The Lightning’s Tyler Johnson raises his arms in the midst of a scrum after pushing in a goal in the second period.
  6. Jonathan Drouin soap opera could have big effect on Lightning's future

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK

    Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden and Lightning practice has been over for more than a half-hour. The Black Aces are now on the ice.

    The Black Aces are not another hockey team. The Black Aces are a collection of players who are on a team but not in the lineup during the playoffs. They don't play in games. All they do is practice. They are the backups. Leftovers.

    The star of the Lightning's Black Aces is Jonathan Drouin. Jonathan Drouin should not be a member of the Black Aces....

    Rookie wing Jonathan Drouin, the third overall pick of the 2013 draft, has played in just three of 14 Lightning playoff games. Coach Jon Cooper says he uses the players he thinks will get a win.
  7. Lightning stays on even keel after Game 1 loss (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK

    No riot acts were read. No sticks were smashed into little bits. No trash cans were turned over.

    Here, inside the Lightning dressing room after Tampa Bay's frustrating 2-1 loss Saturday to the Rangers in the opening game of the Eastern Conference final, there was no sense of alarm. There was no indication that a line of Fear, Worry and Concern was hanging gear inside the lockers....

    Tampa Bay Lightning team captain Steven Stamkos (91) watches from bench during the final minutes after the New York Rangers went up 2 to 1 during third period action for game one of the Eastern Conference Finals at Madison Square Garden in New York Saturday afternoon (5/16/15).
  8. Lightning, Rangers can't escape drama of captain swap

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK

    One year, two months, one week and four days ago. That's when The Trade was made, a trade that rocked the hockey world and the two organizations that made it. It's still hard to believe it happened. • Captains switched jerseys. Teams stunningly ripped out their hearts and swapped them with one another. The Lightning sent its Little Engine That Could, Marty St. Louis, to the Rangers for their blood-and-guts leader, Ryan Callahan. • Feelings were hurt. Emotions were stirred. Fans were torn. There were tears, boos, anger and sadness. • Even now — especially now — as the Lightning and the Rangers are about to meet for the right to go to the Stanley Cup final, aftershocks of the trade vibrate from Tampa Bay to the Big Apple. • "Made for TV," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. • Moments after the Lightning advanced to the conference final, the current captain got a text message from the old captain. St. Louis told Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos: "Good game."...

    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 20: Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the Vancouver Canucks at the Amalie Arena on January 20, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
  9. Delay in Lightning's party doesn't matter now (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    It took a little longer than expected, but that doesn't matter now. Maybe the Lightning scared the thunder out of you, but who cares? It hasn't always been pretty or perfect, but that does not mean a thing.

    One and only one thing does matter: The Lightning is moving on.

    Two series down. Two to go. Survive and advance. The Stanley Cup dream remains alive and well.

    Next up: maybe a familiar face (the Rangers' Marty St. Louis) or a familiar foe (the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin). The Big Apple or the nation's capital....

    Lightning center Steven Stamkos scores on Canadiens goalie Carey Price in the second period for a 2-0 lead.
  10. Jones: It's time for Lightning's Jon Cooper to make a difference

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON

    He doesn't wear goalie pads. He doesn't have a C stitched on his chest or the No. 77 slapped on his back.

    The most important person for the Lightning's success tonight in a pretty-close-to-a-must-win Game 6 against the Canadiens is not goalie Ben Bishop or leading scorer Steven Stamkos or top defenseman Victor Hedman.

    In fact, he doesn't wear skates or sit on a bench. He wears a suit and stands behind it....

    Tonight, Jon Cooper and the Lightning get a second chance at home — and third in all — to finish the series against Montreal.
  11. Back to Montreal? Pressure's on, Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL

    The Lightning skated off the ice, heads down, dejected, eyes to the ground. The Bell Centre crowd, going insane, left the Lightning's ears ringing and its heads splitting.

    As the Lightning stepped off the white sheet and down the tunnel toward the locker room, it surely had one thought in its mind: No way we want to come back here again.

    That means the Lightning's hopes of moving on to the next round, its dream of a Stanley Cup and, more critically, everything it has accomplished this season will be on the line in Game 6 Tuesday night at Amalie Arena....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop reacts following a goal by Montreal Canadiens' P.A. Parenteau during third period of Game 5 of a second-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff series Saturday, May 9, 2015, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT PCH114
  12. Jones: Lightning needs to get back to its game

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL — All it takes is one loss and suddenly the sky is falling.

    Okay, maybe not falling, but some dark clouds are starting to gather.

    Funny how quickly it all changes. After five consecutive victories in these playoffs, after eight victories in a row over the Canadiens and despite still holding what looks like a comfortable 3-1 series lead, the Lightning heads into tonight's Game 5 at the Bell Centre looking a little more vulnerable than it did only 48 hours ago, when everything was as peachy as could be....

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) battle along the boards against Montreal Canadiens right wing Dale Weise (22) during second period action in game four of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening. (05/07/15).
  13. Lightning hits bump against Canadiens, but how big? (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    A reason for concern or merely a small bump in the road?

    That's the question the Lightning is asking itself today as it boards a plane to play a game it never wanted to play Saturday night in Montreal. That game is now necessary because it dropped its broom while trying to sweep the Canadiens out of the playoffs in Thursday's Game 4.

    The Canadiens showed up, as promised, and the Lightning did not. The result was a 6-2 mauling that keeps this series alive....

    Andrei Vasilevskiy, who replaces Ben Bishop, gives up three goals, including this last one to Brandon Prust with 4:52 left.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.