Friday, April 08, 2005


Media on Ice-Tim Panaccio

This Series will run Monday through Friday in the noon hour on the blog...It is fascinating to hear some of the best that cover the sport after this crazy year...Today's guest is Philly's own Tim Panaccio.

EK: How did you end up covering hockey?
TP: I Covered the Flyers in 1979-80 for the defunct Phila. Journal. Journal folded and spent several years jumping papers around the country ... fast foward to 1996 ... I voluntarily left the Eagles beat to accommodate a multi-shift of beat responsibilities involving, Eagles, Phillies and Flyers (3 writers). Always loved hockey and felt the club would win a Cup with Eric Lindros.

EK: What do you enjoy about covering hockey?
TP: Best athletes in the world to deal with. If you travel, you live with these guys for 7-9 months. You better like the people you live with. It's like a marriage. As for the game, the action, as bad as it is with the trap, is constant. Football and Baseball has too much "down" time within the game. Even college basketball has been ruined by excessive time outs of length. You don't have that in hockey.

EK: What has been the biggest frustration covering the lockout?
TP: Writing the same stories over a lack of progress, month after month after month. The feeling you are never getting the "full" picture. The frustration that you can't educate your readers because you are not in the loop. I feel I've let my readers down.

EK: Do you feel the NHL and the PA have been honest with the press?
TP: Neither side has fully disclosed what is going on but I understand that is part of any labor negotiation. Always has, always will be. What angers me is that the owners have lied to the general public. They don't want FULL revenue sharing. They want the players to subsidize the small-market clubs entirely, without true revenue sharing. Player salaries don't equate to team payrolls. If they did, how was it that Nashville had some of the highest ticket prices _ higher than the Flyers _ in the league last season with the lowest payroll? The general public still doesn't understand that much of what the owners say about salaries is untrue.

EK: How have your job responsibilities changed at the paper?
TP: First, I took 18 years worth of accrued vacation. Now I am a general assignment reporter full-time during the lockout. I am fearful I will be moved to another beat without my consent, especially, if the season opens w/replacement players. Some hockey writers have already been moved to other beats.

EK: With all the layoffs, do you fear for your job?
TP: No. Myself and Bill Lyon are the only two Pulitzer nominated sportswriters (mine was a group effort in 1992-93 in news) in the sports department. I am of value to the Inquirer because I have worked  sports, metro, suburban and even business. Few sportswriter are that versatile.

EK: Do you want to cover hockey when it returns or cover another sport?
TP: If I wanted off hockey, I could have moved months or even a year ago. I have a passion for the sport despite how many readers hate my coverage. I believe whoever gets my job next won't have the same passion for the game. In that respect, I consider myself much like a Canadian hockey writer.

EK: Do you think the your relationship with the players or owners will be
strained because of an anger you feel if/when hockey resumes?
TP: Absolutely not. People on both sides still return my calls. I think there is a respect among both the union and clubs to beat writers, such as myself, Larry Brooks, David Shoalts, Tim Wharnsby, Pierre Lebrun, Ed Moran etc., who have covered this thing start to whenever it ends. We care. We're there.

EK: Do you feel the media has done a good job covering the lockout?
TP: The Canadian Media has been all over it. In the US only a few people have really covered it throughout.

EK: If you were a Hockey God how would you fix this?
TP: Hard Cap at 45. Luxury Tax that kicks in at 42.5. 100% sharing of all revenue. The wealthier clubs have to share. Not in the play-offs at all, but 100% in the regular season.

EK: Anything you'd like to add?
TP: What worries me is that as much as I missed hockey, I did not miss it as much as I thought I would. I took a huge hit with lost free lance income. I found other things to occupy some of my time. That tells me that even in the best hockey cities - like Philly _ teams are going to lose a percentage of their season ticket holders permanently. I have received at least a dozen emails from season ticket holders telling me they found other ways to enjoy their $$. That's bad news for the NHL and unfortunately, the owners don't seem to care or recognize that. I am angry that the entire lockout has been driven by people like Bill Wirtz, Jeremy Jacobs, Craig Leipold when anyone who understands those men realizes that no salary cap is ever going to please them and none of those owners are interested in truly competing for the Stanley Cup.

Monday's guest will be Bob Foltman from the Chicago Tribune

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