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Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer

Joe Smith

Joe Smith became the Tampa Bay Lightning beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times in 2014. He spent the previous six years splitting time covering the Rays, Bucs and Lightning He joined the Times in 2006 after spending two years with the Modesto Bee in California, where he did everything from covering the Single-A Modesto Nuts minor league baseball team and high school football to tackling first-person stories on whitewater rafting and adventure racing. Smith grew up in the Detroit suburbs and attended the University of Michigan, where he covered the football, basketball and hockey teams for the Michigan Daily. He freelanced for the Associated Press and Detroit Free Press before securing internships at Crain's Detroit Business and the Raleigh News & Observer. An avid runner, Smith loves traveling, bowling and singing karaoke.

Phone: (813) 310 9024

Email: [email protected]

Blogs:

Lightning Strikes

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  1. Four questions the Lightning still has to answer

    Lightning Strikes

    FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-name prospects heading out.

    Gone are Matt Peca, Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph, Mitchell Stephens, Brett Howden, Adam Erne, Erik Cernak, Ben Thomas, Daniel Walcott, Tye McGinn, Jamie McBain and Dennis Yan. Eleven of the 12 are heading to AHL Syracuse (Howden to juniors), with several showing they can be counted on as callups this season. ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) looks on from the bench during a shift change at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17). In background on right is Nikita Kucherov (86). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  2. Jake Dotchin on rule violation: 'It's hurting me'

    Blog

    While defenseman Jake Dotchin continues to practice with the Lightning, it's uncertain when - or if - he'll get any preseason action.

    Dotchin, 23, violated an unspecified team rule, which is why he hasn't played in the first four games. Dotchin declined to elaborate on what he did, calling it an "internal issue." But Dotchin is disappointed in himself considering how big this camp is for him....

    Jake Dotchin violated an unspecified team rule, which is why he hasn't played in the first four games.
  3. Key decisions for Lightning remain in final week of camp

    Blog

    The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-named prospects heading out.

    Gone are Matt Peca (who had his best camp yet), Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph, Mitchell Stephens, Brett Howden, Adam Erne, Erik Cernak, Ben Thomas, Daniel Walcott, Tye McGinn, Jamie McBain and Dennis Yan. Eleven of the 12 are heading to Syracuse, with Peca, Joseph and Cirelli showing in camp that they could help the Lightning as callups this season. Howden is going back to juniors in Moose Jaw, where  he's captain and No. 1 center....

    Second-round pick Alex Volkov, front, is a darkhorse to crack the Lightning roster.
  4. Lightning to retire Vinny Lecavalier's No. 4 in February (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    When Marty St. Louis became the first Lightning player to have his jersey retired back in January, it was hard not to think that former captain Vinny Lecavalier would be the next one.

    The two good friends, and former linemates were both faces of the franchise, key cogs on the 2004 Stanley Cup run.

    And soon, their jerseys will be hung side-by-side in the Amalie Arena rafters.

    The Lightning announced Monday that Lecavalier's No. 4 will be retired on Feb. 10, when the Los Angeles Kings are in town. Lecavalier, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, spent 14 seasons with the Lightning, scoring 383 of his 321 career goals. The ceremony comes during the franchise's 25th anniversary season....

    Vinny Lecavalier, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, spent 14 seasons with the Lightning, scoring 383 of his 321 career goals. [DIRK SHADD | Times (2007)]
  5. Lightning to retire Vinny Lecavalier's No. 4 in February

    Blog

    When Marty St. Louis became the first Lightning player to have his jersey retired back in January, it was hard not to think that former captain Vinny Lecavalier would be the next one.

    The two good friends, and former linemates were both faces of the franchise, key cogs on the 2004 Stanley Cup run.

    And soon, their jerseys will be hung side-by-side in the Amalie Arena rafters.

    The Lightning announced Monday that Lecavalier's No. 4 will be retired on Feb. 10, when the Los Angeles Kings are in town. Lecavalier, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, spent 14 seasons with the Lightning, scoring 383 of his 321 career goals. The ceremony comes during the franchise's 25th anniversary season....

    Vinny Lecavalier, standing next to Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, is honored in 2012 for his 1,000th game.
  6. Why Jake Dotchin hasn't played this preseason

    Blog

    Turns out, there's a reason why Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin hasn't played at all in the first four preseason games.

    Dotchin, 23, violated an unspecified team rule, according to the Lightning. The infraction won't impact his spot on the roster or standing with the organization. Dotchin has continued to practice, including Sunday afternoon.

    Dotchin, who signed a two year deal this summer worth $812,500 annually, was expected to be part of the Lightning blueline this season. Dotchin's emergence last year in his 35-game callup was one of the bright spots in a season that ended without the playoffs. Dotchin served as a solid partner to All-Star Victor Hedman....

    Jake Dotchin battles Chicago's Marian Hossa in front of the net during a game in January.
  7. Lightning journal: '17 draft pick Alex Volkov has nose for the net

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When the Lightning picked wing Alex Volkov in the second round of the June draft, some wondered why so soon.

    But after the first few weeks of training camp, Volkov, 20, has others wondering how soon the 6-foot-1 forward might reach the NHL.

    Volkov continued his impressive preseason Sunday, racking up two goals in the Lightning's 4-2 loss to the Panthers at Amalie Arena. Both scores involved driving to the net. The first came on a slick wraparound; on the second, Volkov darted to the crease and batted an Alex Killorn pass out of the air....

    Alex Volkov, a ’17 draft pick, cheers ice level after his second goal vs. the Panthers.
  8. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    The Lightning star wing is talking — a lot. About his team, Steven Stamkos, his summer. That is news in itself for a 24-year-old Russian who often brooded while giving one- and two-word answers during media scrums late last season, which stunningly ended without a playoff appearance for Tampa Bay....

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  9. Mikhail Sergachev learning when to keep it simple

    Blog

    Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev tried to carry the puck through the middle in front of his net Friday night against Nashville.

    It led to a turnover and point-blank opportunity for the Predators, with goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy bailing the team out with a big-time save.

    "In the first half of the game, I felt like I was trying to do too much," Sergachev said.

    It was just one example of the learning curve Sergachev, 19, is experiencing during his audition to make the Lightning roster. Sergachev, a playmaker in junior with Windsor, has to show he can make the right decisions, even if it's the boring one....

    Mikhail Sergachev has to show he can make the right decisions, even if it's the boring one.
  10. Lightning confused by NHL's slashing crackdown

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — D Victor Hedman said the joke in the Lightning locker room before Friday's exhibition game was that the over/under on slashing penalties would be six.

    "It was the over again," Hedman quipped.

    Seven slashing penalties were called in the game with the Predators, with players still trying to adjust to the leaguewide crackdown on those stick infractions. Nine were called in Tuesday's exhibition opener against the Hurricanes....

    Wing Ryan Callahan, left,  pursues the Predators’ Colton Sissons, being careful how he uses his stick given the crackdown on slashing in the preseason. “It’s hard to defend when you’re so used to doing something for so long and now it’s a penalty,” Callahan says.
  11. Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan feels good after first game action since January

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — As veteran RW Ryan Callahan was riding a stationary bike before Friday's exhibition game, he felt nervous. There was anxiety.

    "I'm like, 'I haven't had this feeling in a while for a preseason game,' " Callahan said.

    Callahan, 32, hadn't played in a game since Jan. 7, when his nagging hip issues ended his season. A followup procedure on the surgically repaired labrum had Callahan confident the problem was finally fixed....

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) pursues Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) during the first period of Friday (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  12. Matt Peca making case for Lightning spot

    Blog

    Center Matt Peca said he didn't read too much into the fact he was the only Lightning player to appear in each of the first three exhibition games.

    But Peca, 24, loved it.

    "Anytime you get a game, it's a good thing," Peca said. "It gives you another chance to go out there and do your thing."

    Peca has done just that, the 5-foot-8 center making an intriguing case to make the opening night roster. Peca impressed in a 10-game callup last season, and has gotten better each preseason game," Cooper said. Peca won nine of 10 faceoffs Friday, a skill the Lightning badly needs....

    Matt Peca won nine of 10 faceoffs Friday, a skill the Lightning badly needs.
  13. Ryan Callahan encouraged by his return

    Blog

    Captain Steven Stamkos wasn't the only key Lightning player to make a triumphant return Friday night against Nashville.

    Veteran wing Ryan Callahan, 32, played in his first game since Jan. 7, his season ending with a February follow-up procedure on his right hip. Callahan was a bit nervous before the game.

    "I was riding the bike before the game and I'm like, 'I haven't had this feeling in a while for a preseason game," Callahan said....

    Ryan Callahan looked like his old self, delivering two hits, blocking two shots as a key cog on the penalty kill.
  14. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    It had been so long that Stamkos, 27, said he forgot some of his pregame routines as he headed to Amalie Arena to face the Predators.

    "Once I got to the rink, they come pretty natural," he said.

    The routines weren't the only things that returned quickly for Stamkos in a dazzling exhibition debut Friday night. It took just 33 seconds for him to make a splash....

    Victor Hedman, far left, is especially happy to see Steven Stamkos back after Stamkos assists on his goal 33 seconds into the game vs. the Predators.
  15. NHL All-Star Game logo revealed

    Blog

    The NHL released its official logo for the 2018 All-Star Game, which will be held at Amalie Arena in Tampa Jan. 28. It's fitting there's palm trees, water and a sunset tones in the logo.

    Lightning season ticket members will get the chance to to buy tickets for the weekend in a rolling pre-sale which begins late next week. Tickets will start at $205 each and include the skills event on Saturday, Jan. 27 and the All-Star Game....