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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



Lightning Strikes

  1. Ryan Callahan encouraged by his return


    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....

  2. 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.
  3. NHL All-Star Game logo revealed


    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....

  4. Steven Stamkos making exhibition debut for Lightning


    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is curious how he'll feel - and play - in tonight's exhibition game against Nashville.

    "I think everybody is," assistant coach Todd Richards said.

    Stamkos, 27, hasn't played in a game since tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee Nov. 15 against Detroit. He has said his knee feels the best it has since surgery, and has had no restrictions since training camp started last week....

    Steven Stamkos takes a knee while huddling up with the team on the ice during training camp in Brandon last week.
  5. Morning after: Takeaways from Lightning exhibition


    For the Lightning, there was a lot to like in Wednesday's 4-3 exhibition win in Carolina.

    And not just the play of touted defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Sure, Sergachev, 19, delivered with a goal and plus-3 in a team-high 22:16, a great way to start his audition for a spot.

    But other players stood out, too.

    *Forward Adam Erne scored a goal for the second straight game. Both came in front of the net, this one a spin-and-shoot. Erne, who had an extended callup late last season, is in a tough battle to crack the roster....

    The Lightning's Erik Cernak, left, congratulates Adam Erne (73) following Erne's goal against the Carolina Hurricanes.
  6. Mikhail Sergachev begins real Lightning audition vs. Carolina Hurricanes

    Lightning Strikes

    RALEIGH, N.C. — Mikhail Sergachev said he was super nervous early in Wednesday's exhibition debut with the Lightning.

    "I was shaky," he said.

    You can't blame him. The defenseman will have the spotlight on him all preseason, especially after being the centerpiece of the Jonathan Drouin blockbuster deal with Montreal in June. Whether Sergachev makes the team out of camp, as opposed to going back to juniors, is the biggest story line not involving Steven Stamkos' right knee....

    A fan's sign welcomes the three Tampa Bay Lightning Russian prospects, Alexy Lipanov (36), Alexander Volkov (79) and Mikhail Sergachev to the Lightning Development Camp on Wednesday (6/28/17) - translation, "Welcome to Tampa" - at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times
  7. Ryan Callahan: Brian Boyle will beat cancer diagnosis


    Ryan Callahan has been friends with Brian Boyle for a long-time, the two veterans playing together for seven years between the Rangers and the Lightning.

    So when Callahan, 32, found out a couple days ago that Boyle, 32, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, the news hit him hard.

    "Honestly, just shocking," Callahan told the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday.

    The type of bone-marrow cancer, detected through blood work in Boyle's camp physical, was caught early, and can largely be treated by medication....

    Ryan Callahan spoke with Brian Boyle, pictured, a few days before the news broke Tuesday, and believes he'll win this battle.
  8. Taylor Raddysh among first Lightning camp cuts


    Lightning forward prospect Taylor Raddysh was among the first cuts in camp, the team trimming its roster by six on Wednesday.

    Raddysh, 19, will be reassigned to his junior team (Erie Otters), where he racked up 42 goals (109 points) in 58 games last season. Raddysh joined forward Alexey Lipanov, this year's third round pick, who will be heading to Barrie (OHL), Chris Paquette (Peterborough, OHL) and defenseman Oleg Sosunov (Moose Jaw), whom the Times profiled this morning....

    Lightning forward prospect Taylor Raddysh was among the first cuts in camp.
  9. Mikhail Sergachev to debut for Lightning tonight


    For touted prospect Mikhail Sergachev, his audition to make the Lightning takes another big step tonight in his exhibition debut in Carolina.

    Sergachev, 19, acquired from Montreal in June in the Jonathan Drouin blockbuster, will be given every chance to make the opening night roster. But Sergachev has to show during the preseason that he can handle the load. If Sergachev isn't on the Lightning roster, he'll have to return to juniors for another year in Windsor....

    Touted prospect Mikhail Sergachev will make his exhibition debut tonight in Carolina.
  10. Cooper on slashing crackdown: 'The game is no fun'


    There's no question the NHL has made it an emphasis to crack down on slashing this season.

    "What? I didn't notice," Lightning coach Jon Cooper joked.

    You can't blame Cooper for his sarcasm, especially when it came after nine slashing penalties were called in Tampa Bay's 2-1 loss to Carolina in Tuesday's exhibition opener. It made for 25 minutes of special teams, nearly half the game....

    Adam Erne (73) checks Carolina Hurricanes Jake Chelios (76) into the boards.
  11. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    But Esposito, 75, also shared some high praise, saying Sosunov reminded him of a young Zdeno Chara, the 6-foot-9 Bruins captain.

    Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness, who coached Chara as an Islanders rookie, said Sosunov is a better skater than Chara was at that time. ...

    The Lightning’s Anthony Cirelli gets checked by the Hurricanes’ Trevor Carrick during the first period of the preseason opener at Amalie Arena. The teams meet again tonight in Raleigh, N.C.
  12. Cal Foote ready for Lightning exhibition debut


    Just three months ago, defenseman Cal Foote was getting his name called in the first round of the NHL Draft.

    And now Foote, 18, is preparing for another milestone, his first NHL exhibition tonight. The Lightning hosts Carolina at 7:30 p.m.

    "Kind of a dream my whole life, my whole childhood," Foote said. "So it’s going to be a fun moment, that’s for sure."...

    Adam Foote, left, said there have been a few eye-opening moments in his first NHL training camp, but is feeling more comfortable every day.
  13. Oleg Sosunov brings intrigue to Lightning exhibition opener


    When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked he thought the 6-foot-8 Russian would hit the ceiling at Amalie Arena.

    But Esposito also felt Sosunov reminded him of a young Zdeno Chara, the long-time Bruins defenseman.

    Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness, who coached Chara with the Islanders at the beginning of his career, could see that....

    Oleg Sosunov's ability to skate for his size, his reach, and his style have drawn comparisons to Zdeno Chara.
  14. Former Lightning first-round pick Slater Koekkoek faces make-or-break season

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — This time last year, it was Slater Koekkoek's job to lose.

    Koekkoek, 23, a first-round pick in 2012, was coming off an impressive performance in the run to the Eastern Conference final. But while the smooth-skating defenseman did make his first opening night roster — "a dream come true" — it didn't last long. Koekkoek was a healthy scratch the first week, then sent to AHL Syracuse, where he would spend the second half of the season....

    Slater Koekkoek evolved as a defenseman at AHL Syracuse.
  15. Lightning's Slater Koekkoek: 'I've got something to prove'


    This time last year, it was Slater Koekkoek's job to lose.

    Koekkoek, 23, the former Lightning first-round pick, was coming off an impressive performance in the run to the Eastern Conference Final. The smooth-skating defenseman did make his first opening night roster - "a dream come true" - but it didn't last long. After a so-so camp, Koekkoek was scratched the first week, then sent to AHL Syracuse, where he spent the second half of the season....

    Slater Koekkoek faces extensive competition on the blueline, which is at least eight-deep.