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.

Best of NHL: Senators beat Blues, jump Flyers to take over 2nd wild card

Best of NHL: Senators beat Blues, jump Flyers to take over 2nd wild card

ST. LOUIS -- Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone each scored twice to lead the Ottawa Senators over the St. Louis Blues 6-4 on Tuesday night.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Bobby Ryan also scored for the Senators, who won their fourth straight at Scottrade Center for the first time in team history. Mike Condon made 19 saves.

Paul Stastny, Kevin Shattenkirk, Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund scored for the Blues, who had their two-game winning streak snapped. Carter Hutton made 18 saves.

Stone's third goal in four games at the 2:35 mark of the third period was the winner. Exactly a minute after Steen tied it, Stone stole Jaden Schwartz's pass to score his 14th goal of the season, giving the Senators a 4-3 lead.

With the win, Ottawa is currently in possession of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, leapfrogging the Flyers, who are idle this week (see full recap).

Stars hold on for 7-6 win over Rangers
NEW YORK -- The Dallas Stars gave up an early goal for the third straight game. However, this time they quickly bounced back, took two big leads and held on for a win.

Patrick Sharp scored twice, Jamie Benn and Patrick Eaves had a goal and two assists each and the Stars got a wild 7-6 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Dallas fell behind just 27 seconds in as Derek Stepan scored on the Rangers' first shot. On Monday, the Stars gave up a goal 19 seconds into a 4-1 loss at Buffalo, and Minnesota scored 1:19 into a 5-4 win at Dallas on Saturday night.

In this one, the Stars rallied and led 4-1 and 7-3 before pulling out their third win in nine games (3-5-1) (see full recap).

Dubinsky scores twice as Jackets beat 'Canes
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Brandon Dubinsky hadn't scored a goal since Dec. 9 at Detroit, a 17-game stretch during which he had chances but couldn't find the back of the net. The drought ended Tuesday night, maybe helping Columbus end a team-wide lull in the process.

Dubinsky scored in the second and third periods, Boone Jenner had a goal and an assist and the Blue Jackets beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1.

The Blue Jackets got their third win in seven games since ending a 16-game winning streak and pulled even with Washington atop the unforgiving Metropolitan Division.

"We wanted to reset for sure," Dubinsky said. "We haven't played that well, obviously, in the last six or so games. We wanted to get back to the way we play,” (see full recap).

Matthews caps 3-goal burst, Leafs top Sabres
TORONTO -- Auston Matthews, Leo Komarov and Matt Martin each scored in a nine-minute span in the second period and the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied to beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on Tuesday night for their 10th win in 13 games.

Toronto came back after trailing 2-0 through 20 minutes, getting its first victory this season when behind after one period (1-8-1).

It wasn't all rosy for the Leafs, though. Top defenseman Morgan Rielly left after the first period with a lower-body injury.

Frederik Andersen made 24 saves for Toronto, and James van Riemsdyk also scored.

Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane and William Carrier each scored for Buffalo. Robin Lehner and Anders Nilsson allowed four goals combined on 32 shots (see full recap).

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores 36 as Raptors down Nets, 119-109

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores 36 as Raptors down Nets, 119-109

NEW YORK -- DeMar DeRozan had 36 points and 11 rebounds, Cory Joseph scored a career-high 33 and the Toronto Raptors beat the free-falling Brooklyn Nets 119-109 on Tuesday night.

Toronto won its fourth straight game and extended Brooklyn's losing streak to 11 in a row. The Nets have not won since Dec. 26.

Terrence Ross added 15 points for the Raptors, who opened the game with an 11-0 run but fell behind after the first quarter.

Brook Lopez had 28 points for the Nets. Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 14 apiece.

Toronto took a 92-85 lead into the fourth quarter and never looked back. DeRozan led the way with 10 points in the third period, equaling LeVert's total in the quarter.

Lopez and Joseph each scored 14 in the second (see full story).

Mavericks edge Bulls, 99-98, for 3rd straight win on late Matthews' 3
CHICAGO -- Wesley Matthews made a go-ahead 3-pointer from the wing with 12 seconds left, and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Chicago Bulls 99-98 on Tuesday night for their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Six players scored in double figures for the Mavericks, including all five starters. Harrison Barnes had 20 points, Seth Curry added 18 and Dirk Nowitzki finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Dallas trailed 98-96 after Jimmy Butler made a long jumper over Matthews with 23 seconds left, but Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle decided against a timeout and Deron Williams drove into the lane before kicking out to Matthews for the 3.

Chicago had one last chance, but Dwyane Wade missed a potential game-winning jumper from the corner on his 35th birthday as time expired (see full story).

Dragic scores 21 and Heat stun Rockets, 109-103, despite Harden's triple-double
MIAMI -- Goran Dragic had 21 points and eight assists, Wayne Ellington scored 18 off the bench and the Miami Heat overcame another triple-double from James Harden to beat the Houston Rockets 109-103 on Tuesday night.

Dion Waiters scored 17, Tyler Johnson had 16 and James Johnson added 15 for the Heat. Hassan Whiteside finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds.

Harden had 40 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the Rockets (32-12), his 13th triple-double of the season. He shot 12 for 30 from the field and got his triple-double with an assist to Montrezl Harrell with 12.6 seconds left, an uncontested dunk with the Heat simply waiting for the clock to run out.

Harrell had 13 points for the Rockets, who got 12 from Patrick Beverley.

There were 19 ties and 15 lead changes in a game that was back-and-forth for 42 minutes, before the Heat finally took control (see full story).

Leonard's 34 points rally Spurs past Timberwolves, 122-114
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard had 34 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a strong start by the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 122-114 victory Tuesday night.

Leonard's fourth straight 30-point game helped him become the first San Antonio player to score 950 points in the season's first half since Tim Duncan in 2003.

Coming off a career-high 38 on Saturday against Phoenix in Mexico City, Leonard was 12 for 17 from the field.

LaMarcus Aldridge added 29 points on 12-for-20 shooting, spoiling Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau's 59th birthday.

San Antonio had difficulty with Minnesota's explosive starting lineup. Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and Ricky Rubio added 21 points and 14 assists. Zach LaVine scored 18, Gorgui Dieng had 17 and Andrew Wiggins 10 (see full story).