Leaving The Inquirer For Online Pastures: Our Interview With Tim Panaccio

Leaving The Inquirer For Online Pastures: Our Interview With Tim Panaccio

Early in this hockey season, I began to notice that Tim Panaccio wasn't staffing his regular beat at the Inquirer. I thought maybe he was taking a season off to write a book, but soon after, I started seeing Panaccio-penned columns every day at the newly revamped web offering of Comcast SportsNet, CSNPhilly.com. When listening to him speak with WIP's morning show last week, I learned that there was more to the story of his departure from the Inquirer, and I asked if he'd be interested in discussing leaving, starting his new venture, and the 2008-2009 Flyers with us. Always a straight shooter, Tim didn't disappoint.

After so many years of covering the Flyers for
Philadelphia's largest-circulation newspaper, why did you leave the
Inquirer during the off-season?

Jim Cohen took over the
Inky sports department in January. He is not a hockey guy. He moved me to
the Eagles beat on May 22. He said that hockey was "irrelevant" and the
Eagles far outweighed other beats. Cohen didn't understand nor
appreciate that my "passion" was hockey and not the stinkin' Eagles.
They ended up moving Ray Parrillo, another displaced hockey guy, back
onto the Eagles to back up Bob Brookover. On May 22, I began looking
for another job. I more or less created an idea that coincided with
what Comcast SportsNet was planning to do in October. I left the paper on 9/11 to join Comcast.

To
what degree was it that you didn't want to cover the Eagles, versus
only being interested in covering the Flyers?

The NFL
beat is too orchestrated, too controlled, too difficult to do anything
original. Also, I like dealing with hockey players and I don't like
dealing with football and baseball players who feel they are owed
something the second they become a pro.

Working for CSN Philly, your offering is now
entirely web-based. As a long-time newspaper veteran, was there any
hesitation to leave the medium?

It was the easiest
decision I ever made. Why? Newspapers are dying. The web is the future,
and smart newspapers look at the web as an ally and not an adversary.
The Inky/Daily News still haven't figured that part out yet, which is going to
hurt them long into the future. Also, having worked with
Hockeybuzz.com, this was a natural progression for me.

Are there any differences between your current approach to covering the Flyers versus when you handled the beat for the Inquirer?

None. Everything I did for the Inquirer, I now do for
Comcast, except it appears on the web. I can write longer. I can write
additional stories without worry about an Inky editor telling me
there's no room for a sidebar because we have 7 Eagles stories
tomorrow. There are NO deadlines. I can hang around longer after games
to get the player or two I would normally miss if I were still on the
Inquirer's insane deadlines. Also, I have more time to write and that—theoretically—means cleaner copy, less dumb typos.


You've always been known as a guy who would ask the question
that needs asking, with Bob Clarke even answering "You're an
asshole" at one point. Will there be any change in your approach
considering that you work for Comcast, which is a major part of the
Flyers' ownership situation? You're not going to go Spadaro on us, are
you?

No, and I give credit to Jon Litner, Peter Luukko and Ed
Snider, who made it clear to me that they wanted me to cover this team
like I did at the Inquirer. They each said to me that they didn't want
a "house" man. They understand that the Flyers' web site is a club site,
and that Comcast is independent of the NHL's web sites. If you hear my
questions in post-game, I think you'll agree I haven't changed. I
pushed John Stevens hard last week on benching Scott Hartnell, and
Stevens answered with blunt, honest criticism of why he did it. I
haven't changed, and my approach won't change.

Which editor's desk has stricter standards when writing about the Flyers, the Inquirer or Comcast SportsNet?

CSNPhilly.com is a work in progress, and over the next year, you will
see more hires, more changes. This is all new to them. I appreciate the
tough standards I had at the Inquirer. It's made me a more responsible
journalist. I NEVER forget those standards when I write for Comcast. I intend to operate on the web as if this were a Pulitzer
Prize-winning newspaper.

How do you balance your content offering between writing for two online homes, CSNPhilly and HockeyBuzz.com?

Comcast and Hockeybuzz.com actually share some advertising and joint
ventures, such as Flyersbuzz.tv. It's a good partnership. The rules are
simple: Comcast pays my salary; therefore, we break news on Comcast, and we
refer to that news on Hockeybuzz with a link back to Comcast. Hockeybuzz
is blog-oriented. My material on
CSNPhilly, for now, is more journalism-oriented. Eventually, we will add new material, and I anticipate a
blog for CSN as well.

On to the team... The Flyers have clearly underachieved for much of this
season. Do you feel they'll be able to turn it around before Randy
Jones and Ryan Parent return, or are they in trouble without them?

Every time they seem ready to go into the tank again,
they rebound. I don't see how they are going to afford Jones and Parent
unless they move someone, and I believe Luca Sbisa will go back to
juniors. His salary would come off the cap, but they would still have to
pay him out for the season. I feel a trade involving the defense and a
pricey forward will be coming in December. The back end of this team
would not have been such a problem had all these injuries not occurred
in the pre-season. Hatcher, Jones, Parent have missed every game.

You've
been on the record as supporting a move for the Panthers' Jay
Bouwmeester, who is a player we'd love to see here as well. What kind
of player package will it take to land him, and do you think the Flyers
are interested?

I know the Flyers will be in the hunt once the Panthers decide
to move Bouwmeester. If I am Count Jacqula down there in Sunrise, Fla.,
I go the distance, wait til the trade deadline when teams get
desperate, then make my best deal. If I am Paul Holmgren, I come up
with a "best" deal right now and beat everyone to the punch. There are
two things in hockey every team covets: a franchise goalie and a No. 1
d-man who will be around a long time. Bouwmeester is that kind of guy.
By the way, Matt Carle has been impressive in his short stint here,
offensively—his passes out of the zone, and defensively—his shot
blocking.

Is Marty Biron good enough to lead the Flyers to a Stanley Cup winner?

Based on the season so far, definitely not. Based on last year's
playoff run, I would have said yes. If Cam Ward can do it, so can Marty,
but his consistency needs to get back to where it was. He has been much
better and has solid numbers over the past 5 games though. That tells me he is
coming out of his funk. I need to see that Biron the rest of the way to
say he's good enough to win it all.

Any predictions for the outcome of this season?

Second place in the Atlantic Division remains a possibility. As does fourth. It's that tight. It depends on whether Stevens can keep this
team's interest from waning like it did over stretches of last season. I
think that is something the Flyers see in Brendan Shanahan—a guy who can keep
the club heading in one direction and be rather vocal about it. Truth is,
Derian Hatcher was that guy, and not having him in the dressing room is
a huge loss for the club.

Our thanks to Tim for taking the time to talk with us. Look for more from him at CSNPhilly.com.

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Canucks 2

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Canucks 2

Box Score

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Flyers passed a freshness test Sunday night — barely.

After building a 3-0 lead in the first 23 minutes, the Flyers held on for a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 at Rogers Arena.

The Flyers were the more rested team. They had two days off here following Thursday’s loss in Edmonton — and a three-day break before the start of the trip.

But they almost allowed the Canucks to come back in their second game of back-to-back home games with only a day’s rest following a grueling six-game United States road trip.

The Flyers (28-24-7) moved within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently shared by Florida and Boston, in the Eastern Conference. The Canucks (26-28-6) were denied a chance to gain ground on the final postseason berth in the Western Conference.

Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn — who added the goal that proved to be the winner — scored for the Flyers. Two of the three goals came on the power play. Both teams failed to score in the third period.

Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen replied for the Canucks.

With the win, the Flyers avoided going winless on a three-game tour through British Columbia and Alberta. They posted their first victory in Western Canada in the past nine attempts.

Goalie report
Coach Dave Hakstol showed loyalty in goaltender Michal Neuvirth, after he allowed four goals on his first 12 shots in Thursday’s one-sided loss in Edmonton. The goaltender started off much better Sunday, as he got his toe on Markus Granlund’s dangerous chance from in close early and stopped all eight shots that he faced in the first period.

Power play
Hakstol was looking for the Flyers to rediscover their “swagger” on the power play. He got his wish early as Simmonds jammed in a Shayne Gostisbehere rebound only 5:45 into the game. The puck barely crossed the line but was clearly in, as confirmed by a video review. Vancouver winger Alex Burrows was off for hooking at the time. In the second period, Schenn padded his NHL power-play goals lead as he gave the Flayers a 3-0 lead at 2:38. Schenn scored his 14th power-play goal of the season on a shot from the slot as Simmonds screened Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. With his goal, Simmonds moved into a tie for second in NHL man-advantage markers with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Both players have 12.

Voracek busts his slump
The drought is over for Voracek. The winger busted his scoring slump as he gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 2:38 of the second period. The goal was Voracek’s first in 10 games. He had not scored since Jan. 25 against the New York Rangers.

Shayne the unfriendly ghost
Gostisbehere did not live up to his nickname. Ghost was quite visible as he assisted on all of the Flyers’ goals. The Flyers started scoring as Simmonds tipped in Gostisbehere’s point shot during a power play.

Did you notice?
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto had a chance for a rare breakaway with about five and a half minutes left in the first period, but missed a well-placed lead pass as he was coming out of the penalty box. Instead of a scoring opportunity, the missed pass led to an icing call and a face-off in the Flyers’ end.

Up next
The Flyers head back home to meet the NHL-best Washington Capitals on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.

Report: Sixers, Pelicans had 'similar' package to DeMarcus Cousins deal in place

Report: Sixers, Pelicans had 'similar' package to DeMarcus Cousins deal in place

The Kings and Pelicans made waves after Sunday's NBA All-Star Game with the huge trade that sent superstar DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans.

Sacramento sent Cousins to New Orleans for a package that included rookie Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and first- and second-round picks this in this year's draft.

But the Sixers and Pelicans reportedly were very close recently on deal for a "similar" package in exchange for Jahlil Okafor, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelbourne.

That "similar" package was reportedly minus Hield.

So while the Pelicans are now almost certainly out of the running for Okafor, they've still made an impact on the Sixers in the near future.

Remember, the Sixers have the right to swap picks with the Kings in this year's draft via the Nik Stauskas deal in 2015.

So with Sacramento's brightest star now gone, that pick swap could be looking better and better for the Sixers.

As for Okafor, what does all this mean for his status with the Sixers?