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Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

--Winston Churchill
If you haven't been following the latest Avalanche media battle, it's pretty important. Old friend (and by friend, I mean beat reporter who has commented here once) Adrian Dater has had 2 blog posts and a full article about it in the Denver post in the last few weeks. The gist: in order to gain more control of the radio broadcast (and more importantly what's being said about the team) Kroenke sports has moved the Avs radio broadcasts from the popular and available 104.3 FM (The Fan) to the weaker 1510 AM (Mile High Sports) broadcast.

If you read through Dater's articles one of the paragraphs that caught my eye was this one:
Trust me, folks: I’ve heard way too many stories of Avalanche Suit muckety-mucks calling Fan personnel onto the carpet for even the slightest bit of what they perceived to be criticism of their hallowed teams. That made the on-air personnel petrified for their jobs all the time, and which gave YOU, the listener, a one-sided, watered-down, product.
And this is a gigantic problem. I love the Avalanche, but one of my biggest complaints about the organization is the level of paranoia and sensitivity displayed by the powers-that-be. In an attempt to control their image (which is fine, image is important when a large part of your revenue comes from convincing people to buy your stuff) the Avs often overstep their bounds by trying to control other's opinions. Not only is it annoying, it's deceptive, Orwellian, and worst of all a short-sighted philosophy that allows problems to fester and grow.

Albert Einstein had tremendous influence on the development of Quantum Mechanics not just because he was brilliant, but also because he was one of the theories biggest skeptics. As this new theory was emerging Einstein would lay down a criticism of Quantum Mechanics. Neils Bohr, along with other emerging Quantum Mechanics would then answer this criticism. Einstein's criticisms strengthened the field by making Bohr and his cohorts patch any problems they may have overlooked. Now the field of Quantum Mechanics is accepted scientific fact (and laid the foundation for devices such as the computer) thanks in large part to these criticisms. {That's right, Quantum Mechanics in a hockey blog. You'll read it and you'll like it!} Hell the whole scientific process is built on the concept that strong concepts and philosophies have to withstand the most forceful criticism.

In all fairness it's possible the Avs are very receptive to criticism internally, but choose to keep that as a private matter. However even if that is the case not allowing that criticism to be voiced is still harmful to the product. By controlling the message the way the Avs do a trust has broken down that can't be repaired very easily. When the Avs are losing 6-1 and the announcers are gushing about how great a guy has played it's hard to trust them. In fact it's hard to take their opinions seriously. That's too bad because when the Avs are playing well and the announcers praise them It's hard to praise along with them because you don't know if it's sincere or forced. Allowing the announcers to be honest allows fans to praise a player for playing well.

It also discourages outside sources to be critical, which is probably the point. But, as mentioned above, this is not a good thing. A friend will team me they like my new haircut, but only a good friend will tell me if it sucks.

The Avs seem to have a different view, more of a yes-man view of criticism. More depressingly they seem to view criticism as harmful to their product, done in malice, and a scourge on what is nearly perfection. But shunning, instead of embracing, criticism is short-sighted and leads to the propagation of bad policies which will only hurt their product in the long run. And those of us who constantly criticize aren't doing it out of spite, jealousy, or anger, but it's done out of love of the team, desire to see things get better, and probably a little frustration (but only because the critics care).
We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticize us perform a remarkable act of friendship, for to undertake to wound or offend a man for his own good is to have a healthy love for him.

--(Montaigne)