Talkin’ with Taryn | JerseyMan Magazine (2024)

Taryn Hatcher is the co-host of the Flyers Pre- and Post-Game Live shows on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with former Flyer Scott Hartnell and longtime hockey analyst Al Morganti. She’s exactly the type a fan wants in the job…she’s paid her dues, she can hold her own talking hockey with Scott and Al, and she’s been a Philly sports girl since childhood.

Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Can you tell us how you landed at NBCSN?

I interned here in fall 2013. I’d come in on extra shifts to be around producers and anchors. Neil Hartman was very good to me, Amy Fadool was incredible to me. I stayed in touch with Marshall Harris, stayed in touch with [VP of Content] Michelle Murray.

I interned at CBS in New York my junior year and got hired by Rutgers to do on-air stuff in the fall of my senior year at Rutgers. They hired me for the Big Ten Network which allowed me to put together a reel, and I sent it out to all these places.

I made myself graduate early. If everybody else is graduating in May, I’m gonna have to compete with all those people. But in December, I’m only gonna compete with people who are leaving jobs. I was very stressed out, I had no free time at all, but it worked out, so I can’t be mad.

Honolulu had an opening at Hawaii News Now, at KGMB/KHNL. The newsroom manager was like, ‘How serious are you? Are you willing to move 5,000 miles away and work all the time?’ I always knew this was the deal. If I’m going to move far away, I might as well move to Honolulu.

I learned to shoot and edit and produce and write. We had big sports and really, really small sports. So, it was enough to keep me hungry and really want to do it.

Every time I came back, I’d meet with Michelle and talk about agents and contracts. She reached out and said we’re going to have an opening. I had to give my bosses notice; I’m heading back to Philly. I bawled my eyeballs out because those people were so good to me.

Do you feel there’s something you did that separated yourself?

I think it’s being self-motivated more than anything. I try to be that way and be a good teammate.

Yesterday, we had no prompter and no playback. That we put together a show is a modern miracle, that took like 25 people to pull off. Everybody said good job to me and Al. I just talk about hockey. That’s the easy part. Our engineers, producer, directors, they’re unsung heroes.

I learned in Hawaii how much it takes to put on a show. The amount of work a producer does is insane. Even our tech guys, our tech crew is awesome.

What’s involved in this, besides what you do on air?

I’m at practice every day. You sit in press conferences. Morning skate on game days. I write every script that goes in Pregame Live because I’m absolutely anal about it. I want it to be my words and sound the way I talk. Some people don’t have to be in the middle of it, but for me, it’s much easier to recall what you’re saying than if I just read it.

There are a lot of times I know stuff I can’t say on TV, but it helps me frame the story better. I value that.

What do you like most about this gig?

I get paid to watch hockey! I also like that my bosses have been open to letting me do more. My goal has become to make the show as enjoyable as I can make it.

Scott reminds me of my older brother, the way we antagonize each other. They let me and Scott be ourselves. I don’t want to just say a bunch of stuff you can Google, stats and quotes. It should be fun because otherwise it’s not gonna be fun to watch.

You probably deal with criticism, too?

In my first year, I feel I got quite a bit. It only bothered me when I felt it was true, if someone said she really botched that hit, and I felt, yeah, I really botched that hit.

I think it’s more beneficial to be able to be self-critical. My brother’s a helicopter pilot in the Navy, I have perspective on what is a very difficult job. The criticism only bothers me when I agree with it.

How about a favorite moment in your career?

I sat with Carter Hart’s mom; we did a live interview during his first start. He was making amazing saves and the crowd was going crazy. She was so nice and so proud, and I’m such a sympathetic crier that I was like, ‘don’t cry on television, don’t cry on television.’ Carter is such a nice kid. She was bringing up all the moments where his dad would take him to hockey practice, and they dreamed of this moment.

Oskar [Lindblom]’s first time back playing after he was diagnosed [with cancer]. I literally just got goosebumps thinking about it. We always felt that he was so skilled, he just had the opportunity to succeed, grabbed onto it and made the most of it, and now it was getting taken away from him. To see him in the arena, and the reaction he got, felt like everything he deserved and more.

Just a lighthearted one, when Scott said ‘shinny,’ everybody thought he cursed, and we had to explain what ‘shinny’ hockey was. That was fun.

Who are your favorite Flyers, today and in history?

Don’t tell him this, Scott [Hartnell] was one of my favorites. He had so much personality, and he was fun. My parents would talk about how Rick [Tocchet] was such a Flyer. I interview Rick all the time, he is so Philly.

I have a ton of respect for Claude Giroux, I watched him as a fan and now I cover him, I’ve had the privilege of being in the tunnel, so I hear things I’m not really supposed to hear. Claude’s competitiveness is one of the most fiery, driven personality traits I’ve seen.

Derian Hatcher was a burly, tough, heavy D-man. The way he played was the way I love to watch sports being played. His wife told me that someone congratulated her once on her daughter getting a big job in Philly. She was like, ‘None of my daughters live in Philadelphia, what are you talking about?’ (Laughs.)

Knowing Jonesy [Keith Jones] as a broadcaster makes me love him as a Flyer. Chris Pronger’s obviously up there. Simon Gagne and Danny Briere, I associate so much with that playoff run.

What would be the reaction if Giroux won a Cup elsewhere?

We were just talking about this on the podcast. Captains get more heat here, like Eagles’ first-round picks get lots of heat. There would be frustration that it didn’t happen here, because over the past ten years, they’ve made it, missed it, made it, missed it, and it took forever to break through to the second round. We know how that went a year ago.

Do you think anyone puts that on him?

I think some people do, part of it. I always say this about Claude Giroux, why I say the thing about the tunnel. He’s become so used to dealing with the media, I think he kind of goes into autopilot when he’s in press conferences or a media scrum for interviews. That’s all people see, and I think it gets misinterpreted.

People don’t see the passion you see if you go to practice every day. If he trips in practice, he looks like he’s mad at the ice. He’s that passionate. Young players absolutely love his leadership style. Guys who have been here a long time have a ton of respect for him.

If he leaves and wins and retires, and all you look back on is his Flyers career, he’s right behind Bobby [Clarke] in almost every single category, which is remarkable.

He’s in a contract year and it’s a flat cap. We’ll see what happens.

Do you have a favorite Flyers history moment?

Oh, the entire 2010 run. The Phillies just won the World Series, it felt like Philly was on fire. They had to punch and fight their way into that postseason, then they had to punch and fight their way through the Bruins series.

I got to interview Danny Briere on the tenth anniversary of that game seven. That might be my favorite memory, talking to him about that. The whole never say die feeling of that series is so Philly too, it just feels Philly to me.

I remember that Patrick Kane goal, I was in physics that year in high school. I remember staring at it. “I’m so bad at [physics], but I’m telling you that goal doesn’t make sense.” I stand by it to this day.

Were you surprised by Alain Vigneault’s firing? Did you see it coming?

I was surprised by the timing because it happened in the middle of five games in seven days. We were questioning it on air because it felt like with how many games they’d consecutively lost, that’s a legitimate concern. I was surprised at the timing because of how much work they had that week, but not altogether surprised given the situation.

Had the possibility come up in conversation with your on-air partners?

Before the skid, we were having lots of conversations about how they hadn’t lost consecutive games. There were issues but there were also silver linings.

[Flyers GM] Chuck Fletcher acknowledged it in his press conference. He said, ‘You look at the first ten games of the season, and you look at the second ten games, it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.’ On one side you don’t even have those conversations, but on the other side, you have to start, especially when losses were piling up and there were so many struggles across the ice.

So how do you see the rest of the season playing out?

It’s tough to say because they’re still far from healthy. It’s hard to really know who this team is because they’ve yet to have their full arsenal of weapons out there and clicking, because of how injured they’ve been. You look at it week after week, it is really jarring, the injuries they’ve had. I’d love to see them get healthy; I would love to see what they can do.

Jonesy and I were talking about this the other day. Chuck wanted to make improvements on last year’s team to get back to where they were in 2019-20. When you look on paper, it looks like he brought in the right pieces to do that.

That’s the part that I’m sure is frustrating for him, frustrating for Vigneault, now frustrating for [interim head coach] Mike Yeo, it’s frustrating for the fan base. There’s a lot of questions about if the answers are in that dressing room, and it’s hard to evaluate when you’ve had so much bad injury luck. It’s not just guys while they’re out, it’s when guys come back and they’re dealing with things like muscles that nag and pull and get tight. And that’s difficult too, there’s a lot to it. It’s just a tough situation.

How would you celebrate the Flyers winning the Stanley Cup?

I would try to cover that parade, I’m sure it would be absolute insanity.

I was talking to [former Flyers coach] Mike Keenan and Rick Tocchet about the eighties teams that got close. If anything, it makes you not take for granted how hard it is. The year the Blues won, when they came here midway through the season, they were a team in disarray. They end up hoisting the Stanley Cup.

You need a good team, you need health, you need good goaltending at the right time, you probably need a little bit of luck, and all of that to come together.

Philly fans are who they are because they love their teams so much. Agree?

It’s like a family dinner. You can tell each other when you don’t like something, and you can say it as callously as you want, but at the end of the day you still love each other. But if somebody outside the family said something about your family member, you would handle it! (Laughs.) I know people feel very one way or the other on [Flyers mascot] Gritty, but Gritty got popular here the day people outside of Philly started making fun of him. You don’t talk about our family; we talk about our family!

It’s a passionate family. When they don’t do what we want, we get a little disappointed. But the love is so undeniable that you feel like it’s okay to be critical sometimes.

Because the passion and love and protectiveness is always going to be there.

Photos by: Jeremy Messler Photography

Talkin’ with Taryn | JerseyMan Magazine (2024)
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