by Patrick Hoffman on 07/21/12 at 10:00 AM ET
It is always an honor and a pleasure for me to do e-mail interviews with hockey beat writers considering that is my ultimate dream job.
Recently, I was lucky and honored enough to conduct an e-mail interview with new Philadelphia Flyers’ web site beat writer Anthony SanFilippo. Anthony was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he became a beat writer and how he got the new gig.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
ASF: Dumb Luck. I was doing some freelance work for the Associated Press in 1999-2000 and I was showing up at a variety of sporting events. I started getting assigned more and more hockey games because not many writers liked hockey. While there, I became friends with the guys at comcastsportsnet.com (Now CSNPhilly.com) which was a fledgling Web site at the time. They were looking for someone to write home games for them… so I offered and they accepted. When the beat opened at the Delaware County Times, I had already been covering the team for the AP and Comcast for a few seasons, so it was an easy transition and a no-brainer for the paper to put me in that job since I was already on staff.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player? Why?
ASF: Well, I grew up in Philly, so the Flyers were always my favorite hockey team. In the 1980s, I was a huge fan of Ilkka Sinisalo. When I first met him in 2004 (he is a scout for the Flyers) I told him that. He looked at me and said, “Thanks for making me feel old.” I always liked Sinisalo because he was such a smooth skater with a sniper’s wrist shot - something I always imagined I’d be if I ever played hockey (which I didn’t). In the early 90s, when I was in college, I was a big John LeClair fan, that’s because I got bigger and when playing deck hockey or roller hockey I fashioned myself as the big body in front of the net. So naturally, I liked LeClair.
Hockey was never my favorite sport though. It always ranked second behind baseball where I still live and die (mostly die this year) with the Phillies. I like the 76ers too, but the Eagles always took a back seat (and still do) to the San Francisco 49ers because I was the biggest Joe Montana fan on the planet.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a sports/hockey writer?
ASF: I always used to fantasize about being a broadcaster when I was a kid, but never a writer. Actually, I never wrote a thing until I started freelancing for the AP in 1999. I knew right away that when I started writing that it was something I’d be good at, so I pursued it after leaving the radio business. I always knew sports was my thing, but I did thoroughly enjoy my stints as a political writer, music columnist and food, theatre, movie reviewer.
PH: What was it like to be the Philadelphia Flyers’ beat writer for the Delaware County Times? What did you learn on the beat?
ASF: It was always a cool job. Not many people in the world have the privilege of getting that much access to professional athletes on a daily basis. I came from a big sports-oriented family and had (still have) a large circle of friends where sports is a frequent focus of conversation. So, to have the chance to be the person who had the access to the players all the time was certainly viewed by all as a very fortunate happenstance. I learned a lot on that beat. My predecessor (and now successor) Rob Parent taught me a lot about covering hockey. So did Wayne Fish from the Bucks County Courier. Us suburban newspaper guys had to have a lot of gumption because there we were competing with the big boys from the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News and we did a damn good job of hanging in with them, even being ahead of them from time to time. I really learned a lot about the industry and the sport of hockey away from the ice as well. It was all good and positive.
PH: You are now the Inside Reporter for the Philadelphia Flyers’ web site? How did that gig come about for you?
ASF: It was a long work in progress. I think I had my most basic and initial conversations about the possibility of the creation of this job last September. I met again with the Flyers in January and made a big pitch to them in both March and April before accepting the position officially in June. The role of the new job was kind of a joint effort in creation. I made a pitch to the team and they took it and tweaked it and modified it and we hashed out the details together. There are still some unknowns out there, but we really seem to work well together when it comes to making decisions that I’m certain it will all turn out really well.
PH: What will you be doing in your new position for the Flyers’ web site?
ASF: For now, all I can tell you is I will be doing a lot of writing for the web site (Philadelphiaflyers.com) and doing some video work as well. I will have a blog that will make an appearance on the Web site too and I will be able to provide exclusive interviews and access to the team that is unprecedented. I will also be a liaison between the fans and the organization by being a leading voice on several social media platforms. There’s even more, but if I told you, I’d have to kill you.
PH: In terms of social media, how do you think this new kind of role for the Flyers’ web site is a valuable one?
ASF: Everyone uses social media right? But does everyone use it to it’s fullest extent? No. I believe there are ways we can utilize social media as a way to enhance content on the Web site as well as coverage of the Flyers organization that will be more interactive and fan friendly then ever before. It is my charge to experiment with those ideas and nurture the ones that work and are embraced by the fans. Also, while I was pretty active on social media before this job, I anticipate being even more of a voice than I was before.
PH: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
ASF: I’m left-handed. I am a player/coach for a very competitive men’s softball team (heading to the state championship next weekend and then, hopefully to Nationals over Labor Day). I was a theatre major in college, so I have a soft spot for Broadway. I love good food and am always looking for recommendations when on the road with the team. Oh, and if you want to meet for a beer when I’m in your town to talk pucks (or anything else for that matter) tweet at me (@AnthonySan37) and we’ll set something up!
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.