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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: joesmith@tampabay.com

Blogs:

Lightning Strikes

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  1. Mikhail Sergachev scores twice as Lightning shuts out Blue Jackets (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev said he blacked out for a few seconds after his first NHL goal Thursday night, a rocket slap shot from the point.

    "I didn't know what to do," Sergachev said, smiling. "I'm like, 'What am I supposed to do?'

    Lightning 1 1 0 2
    Blue Jackets 0 0 0 0
    "...

    Mikhail Sergachev, front, looks like he’s very in the moment with teammate Dan Girardi after scoring his first NHL goal, though he says he blacked out for a bit. He scores again in the second.
  2. Joe Smith's takeaways from Thursday's Lightning-Blue Jackets game

    Lightning Strikes

    While Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov grab the headlines, don't sleep on their linemate, Vladislav Namestnikov. Namestnikov is far from a third wheel, with eight points in eight games. "He might not have the names the other two have, but he's as pivotal and vital to that line as the others," coach Jon Cooper said.

    Just when we thought D Slater Koekkoek had a turning point after last week's first NHL goal, he has been a healthy scratch in back-to-back games. Whether or not D Andrej Sustr is getting shopped, the Lightning has to find a way to play Koekkoek, 23, more. He has appeared in half of Tampa Bay's eight games....

  3. Lightning journal: Derrick Brooks helps J.T. Brown make a difference

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown's decision to stop his anthem protest began to take shape just a few days after he raised his right fist before the Oct. 7 game against the Panthers in Sunrise.

    Brown, 27, was encouraged when interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan reached out to him Oct. 9 and showed a willingness to work with him on issues of police brutality and racial inequality. Brown, one of about 30 black players in the NHL, gained a better understanding in what he called an "eye-opening" experience at the department's citizens academy later that week....

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown (23) on the ice at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17).
  4. J.T. Brown said first protest already sparked action plan

    Blog

    Lightning wing J.T. Brown said part of the reason he will no longer raise his fist during the national anthem is because his first silent protest has already sparked an action plan.

    The protest got him connected with the Tampa Police Department, and after consulting with Bucs legend Derrick Brooks, Brown figured out the best way to create change locally....

    J.T. Brown stressed that he got a lot of support from the Lightning, from ownership on down to help put him in situations to help.
  5. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his fist as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    But Brown, 27, one of about 30 black players in the NHL, will instead continue a more hands-on approach in the community in an attempt to raise awareness and understanding of issues he believes are important: police brutality and racial inequality.

    Brown made the announcement in a lengthy Twitter statement Wednesday, detailing how he plans to donate Lightning tickets and his time to several Tampa Bay area organizations. ...

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  6. Lightning approaches decision time for Mikhail Sergachev

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev had dinner with his host family from juniors Monday.

    With the Lightning in Detroit to play the Red Wings, the Reid family made the trek across the Detroit River from Windsor, Ontario, where Sergachev arrived from Russia two years ago. That's where Sergachev learned English in four months, where he blossomed into a top-10 NHL draft pick and where he led the Windsor Spitfires to the championship of the Canadian Hockey League in May....

    The Lightning has to decide, as early as this weekend whether Mikhail Sergachev will stick in the NHL or return to juniors for another season. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  7. J.T. Brown won't raise fist, but plans to do more in community

    Blog

    Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer be raising his first as a silent protest during the national anthem.

    But Brown, 27, one of about 30 black players in the NHL, plans to do more in the community to create awareness and understanding for key issues of police brutality and racial inequality. Brown made the announcement in a lengthy Twitter statement Wednesday afternoon.

    "I understand this issue cannot be resolved overnight, nor can i do it alone" Brown said. "I am done raising my fist during the national anthem. I am now using this support, opportunity and platform to call out everyone who agreed or disagreed with me to help by sharing suggestions, continuing respectful conversations and looking for ways that they too can make a difference in the community."...

    J.T. Brown plans to do more in the community to create awareness and understanding for key issues of police brutality and racial inequality.
  8. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    This was a tough position for Budaj, 35, playing in his first game in about three weeks. And he looked rusty early on, Budaj allowing an innocent-looking wrist shot squeak through his legs. Then Budaj whiffed on a loose puck in the crease, leading to another.

    "Obviously didn't start the best," Budaj said....

    Devils players surround Drew Stafford after his first-period goal as Lightning goalie Peter Budaj composes himself.
  9. Lightning's Steve Yzerman enjoying Nikita Kucherov's scoring run

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    On Monday, Kucherov, 24, joined Yzerman, Mario Lemieux and Keith Tkachuk as the only players in the past 30 years to score a goal in each of his team's first six games. On Tuesday, Kucherov made it seven consecutive games, becoming one of six players in the modern era (1943-44) to complete that feat. The others were Lemieux (12 games), Mike Bossy (10), Wayne Gretzky (eight), Ken Hodge (seven) and Tony Tanti (seven). ...

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, of Russia, celebrates after scoring a goal on the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  10. Joe Smith's takeaways from Lightning-Devils

    Lightning Strikes

    D Mikhail Sergachev earned more ice time Tuesday, logging more than he had in the past three games (when he played fewer than 10 in two). He was poised on the power play. He kept things simple. This was one of the 19-year-old's better games, including his first career two-point night. It won't be Sergachev's last.

    It might not show up on the scoresheet, but forward Yanni Gourde has been stellar this season. The subtle, steady defensive plays to thwart scoring chances. The relentless forecheck. Gourde did the dirty work to set up Steven Stamkos' go-ahead goal in the second period. ...

  11. Lightning's Steve Yzerman: Nikita Kucherov 'wants to be great'

    Blog

    If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Kucherov, 24, joined Yzerman, Mario Lemieux and Keith Tkachuk as the only players in the last 30 years to score a goal in each of his team's first six games. Kucherov has seven, including two in Monday's 3-2 win over Detroit. Yzerman racked up six in the first six games of the 1988-89 season, when he finished with a career-high 65....

    Nikita Kucherov joined Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux and Keith Tkachuk as the only players in the last 30 years to score a goal in each of his team's first six games.
  12. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    But the result remained the same, another Tampa Bay victory over the Red Wings, who lost for the eight straight time to their Atlantic Division rivals. This time it was 3-2 Lightning.

    "This is a typical Tampa-Detroit game," coach Jon Cooper said. "Not much room out there. I thought there were times they had us on our heels. We weren't on top of them like we should. But I like our determination in the third."...

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  13. Joe Smith's takeaways from Lightning-Red Wings

    Lightning Strikes

    They did a masterful job with the new Little Caesar's Pizza Arena. While as a Detroit native, it's natural to have nostalgia over the old Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings did it right blending the state-of-the-art amenities while preserving history (including old Joe Louis stools in home dressing room)

    Red Wings fans must really hate Lightning center Tyler Johnson. Johnson, who nearly single-handedly lifted Tampa Bay to a playoff series win over Detroit in 2014-15, started the scoring Monday with a short-handed breakaway. Looks like vintage speed from Johnson, a good sign....

  14. Backhand shot makes Nikita Kucherov's offense even more dangerous

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Nikita Kucherov is on a historic streak, just the fourth player in the past 30 years to score a goal in each of his first six games.

    The others include Hall of Famers Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux. Not too shabby.

    "Special player, special, shot," captain Steven Stamkos said. "When you're hot, you're hot."

    Kucherov has scored in a variety of ways in his record run, including a sick wrist shot his first of two goals in Monday's 3-2 win over Detroit. But Kucherov has also incorporated a lost art — the backhand shot — which the Lightning wing had used for two of his previous four goals. ...

    Nikita Kucherov’s backhand shot adds to his strong scoring.
  15. Deception key to Nikita Kucherov's hot start

    Blog

    The slick, sling-shot type wrist shot Nikita Kucherov used for his first goal Monday night may have stunned many at Little Caesar's Arena.

    But Kucherov, 24, has practiced it countless times. There were his 5-to-6 day a week individual workouts this summer at Brandon's Ice Sports Forum, starting in late June. Then the 40-goal scorer, never satisfied, would come home and shoot some more, thanks to the synthetic ice sheet he installed in his two-car garage....

    Nikita Kucherov is the first player in Lightning history to score a goal in each of the first five games.