The Capitals media community has a had rough year. Back on New Year’s Eve in 2009, Caps fans got some unfortunate but sadly unsurprising news that The Washington Times was shutting down its Sports section, leaving acclaimed Capitals beat writer Corey Masisak out of a job. Over the summer, news broke that The Washington Post’s beat writer Tarik El-Bashir was stepping down, moving to a position that left him more time to spend with his young children. Recently, the Vice President of Communications for the Capitals, Nate Ewell, announced his departure, taking over a similar position at College Hockey, Inc.
Despite being laid off more than a year ago, Masisak retained a presence on our computer screens, freelancing for CSNWashington.com and NHL.com. On January 3rd, Masisak announced that he had accepted a full-time position at NHL.com, a move the will force him to bid farewell to DC and head to New York City.
Caps Snaps talked to Corey about sports journalism, his future and time in Washington.
How did you get into sports journalism?
I started writing stories for a tiny, weekly newspaper called the Apollo News-Record when I was in seventh grade. I wrote about my middle school’s football and basketball teams (of which I played for) and continued to do so through high school. By the end of my high school tenure, I also wrote football stories about two other local high schools and wrote about the girl’s basketball team as well.
So I’ve pretty much wanted to do it for a long time. I chose to go to Maryland instead of Syracuse or Penn State mostly because of the journalism school – but I’d be lying if the weather didn’t play a big part as well. I started working at The Washington Times while I was still in school.
What is it about hockey that especially appeals to you?
I covered college football and basketball and loved it, and hockey is the one major professional sport of the four that most resembles the college experience. It is without a doubt the best sport to see live, and big-time college basketball is the only sport that comes close in my opinion. Plus the athletes are easily the best to deal with on a daily basis compared to the other professional sports. My favorite sport growing up was baseball, but I don’t think I could ever cover it on a full-time basis.
How has sports journalism changed during the past few years with the emergence of blogs and Twitter?
Everything has to happen so much faster. The Times started its hockey blog just as I was becoming the beat writer, so it was always a part of my job. I’ve heard more experienced writers say how much more there is to do now with a blog to feed. It definitely has made the morning skate infinitely more important.
The rise of Twitter basically took the advantages of a blog (faster access to info, better connectivity with fans) to another level exponentially. I think being active on Twitter allows writers to show more personality and it allows readers to peak behind the curtain more. I missed having a blog this past year because there where times when I wanted to write a brief thing, whether it was about a player or a team or something I did on a road trip, and 140 characters wasn’t enough to covey what I wanted to say.
Why did working for NHL.com appeal to you?
There were a lot of reasons. The obvious ones are I didn’t want to be a freelance writer anymore and it would great to have a salary and health insurance again. Beyond that, there is a lot of stability with the company. Given what happened at The Times that was kind of a big deal, and even if a full-time job had ever materialized at CSN Washington there was still the looming question of “What happens at CSN if/when Ted Leonsis decides to start his own TV network?”
Maybe the biggest reason though is the people here at nhl.com. My new boss, Bob Condor, is awesome at his job and great to work for. I know people say things like “working for a good boss appeals to me” when they are in the interview process, but I really meant it. I knew a lot of the other guys who work here from meeting them out on the road as well. It is a pretty great environment to work in. Oh, and I get to live in Manhattan. That’s not something I would have ever thought would happen 10 years ago when I was living in a two-stoplight town (which has since become a one-stoplight town) in Pennsylvania, and it has been a pretty surreal experience so far.
What was your most memorable moment covering the Capitals?
It is pretty hard to just pick one – there have been so many because of the team’s success and The Times’ willingness to let me get out on the road and cover a lot of cool events. The Caps-Pens series wasn’t really one moment, but two weeks of just everything you could ever dream of when you get a job like this. It was maybe the best playoff series I’m ever going to see, and so many of my hockey writing friends were around that we had a blast both at and away from the rink during that series.
If I had to pick one individual moment, it was probably Game 7 of the Cup final in 2009. Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals is the pinnacle of this sport, and that one is probably the signature hockey game since I became a hockey writer — though I could see the US-Canada gold medal game in Vancouver being just ahead of it. That I was there and able to interview guys on the ice afterwards was pretty memorable. It is the only time I’ve had to wait on an interview because a player had to put his kid in the Stanley Cup for a picture.
I’d say a close second was Game 7 of the Caps-Rangers series. I’m not sure Verizon Center will ever be louder than it was at the end of that game after Sergei Fedorov scored.