An Open Letter To Sandy Clough

[Sandy Clough is the co-host of The Sports Guys, a cleverly-named morning talk show on Denver radio station AM 950 The Fan]

Dear Sandy,

So you disagree with us here in the online Avalanche fan community that Coach Joel Quenneville has done an overall lousy job behind the Colorado bench and should find employment elsewhere.  Fair enough.  Nobody said you had to agree with us.  

It's unfortunate, though, that you've become the most recent mouthpiece of the "Blogs Are Boogie Men" crowd, led by my bedridden 85 year-old grandfather.  You've decided, because we disagree with you, that we are "Chuckleheads" with 1) no credibility, 2) no accountability and 3) no knowledge of hockey.  You've now taken the time to openly bash us on the Altitude Sports post-game show after the Edmonton and Calgary games and on your own radio show this morning.

First of all, I encourage you to actually think about how the "market of ideas" generally works for blogs.  The more ridiculous crap a blogger types about a subject, the less his readers will take him seriously.  And then the less readers he will have.  That's how it works.  The notable exception to this is Eklund over at Hockey Buzz, but his audience now consists primarily of people that just want to pounce on him for being wrong.  Simply put, if I, as a blogger, spout nothing but bullshit, nobody will read my blog.  The truth, however, is that the traffic, membership and participation by commenters continues to increase at Mile High Hockey every single week.

So that gets accountability and credibility out of the way.  The next is hockey knowledge.  

I and my Avalanche blogging colleagues have been watching, playing and studying hockey for much of our lives.  We've watched all the same Avalanche games that you have watched.  We've read all of the same books and newspaper columns.  We've studied the same statistics and read the same scouting reports.  This newfangled Internets allows us, regardless of our geographic location, to experience the team just as anyone else would.  With the exception of meeting the players face-to-face, our experience with the Colorado Avalanche has been no different in any way than your own.  Simply because you use a microphone to distribute your opinions and we use a keyboard does not make you all that different than us.  It's still opinion, and we're still as much entitled to our own as you are to yours.

The fact that you disagree with me and all the other bloggers about Coach Quenneville is not what bothers me.  Shit, I couldn't care less.  I don't send angry emails to Scott Burnside every day because he insists on saying Coach Q deserves the Jack Adams award.  I could, and probably should, but he's entitled to be wrong, just like you are.

What bothers me is that you find it necessary to bash our credibility and belittle us (and call us names like "coward" and "phony"---see the comments) simply because we don't have a radio show or get a paycheck from Altitude Sports.  I find it odd that you've taken so much time to lash out at the very fanbase you rely upon to stay in business.  We're fans of the team, too.  We care what happens on the ice and we want to see another Stanley Cup banner hanging from the Pepsi Center rafters.  Just because we disagree with you and don't like the coach doesn't mean we love the team any less.  In fact, you're supposed to be a journalist, so you're not technically allowed to love the team anyway.

I find it especially annoying that a person---like yourself---with a vested interest in sucking up to the Avalanche franchise has taken the time to bash those who don't for not sucking up to it.  Are you so afraid that criticizing Coach Q would endanger your access to him?  Access upon which you rely to maintain a place in the media marketplace?  Without the face-to-face access enjoyed by radio, TV and the newspapers, there'd be no reason for fans to consume your product anymore anyway.  You know that.  Are you afraid that criticizing Coach Q will lead him to stop doing his show on your radio station?  Or that Kroenke Sports Enterprises will stop giving you credentials at the Pepsi Center?

Sandy, I sent you this email yesterday:

   Sandy,

   I'm the editor of MileHighHockey.com, a blog dedicated to the Colorado Avalanche.  I took exception to your comments last night after the Edmonton game in which you said (and I'm quoting as accurately as possible):

   "Some of these chuckleheads on the message boards and the email system around town are calling for his head. They must be confused and think they're watching the 95-96 Avalanche. This is a team that's 10th over all in the conference, still only 4 pts out of the playoffs, frankly it's miraculous that they're within 15 pts from a playoff spot right now considering the effect of these injuries. Everyone around the league knows it, except the fans around here apparently."

   Personally, I think you're both wrong about Coach Quenneville's performance this season and your assessment that fans who criticize him are "chuckleheads" or lacking in knowledge.  I'd like to engage you in an informal debate on the matter, if you'd be interested.  Since I don't live in the Denver area, I think it would be difficult to coordinate an on-air appearance, so email may have to suffice.

   If you're interested, please let me know and we can each present our arguments on various coaching-related topics.  I figure we could badmouth each other from a distance, or we could just address each other's points in a civilized manner.  Let me know which option you prefer.

   Joe
   Mile High Hockey

But you didn't respond to it*.  Well, not to me, personally.  No, you responded on the air and specifically belittled out-of-town hockey fans.  I mentioned in my email that I don't live in Denver so I assume you were at least indirectly referring to me.  Like I said earlier, this new Internet contraption allows me, wherever I am, to see and read the same things that fans in Denver get to see and read.  I know it seems like magic, but it's real!

The offer to exchange emails about our positions on Coach Q stands.  I'd still like to discuss your views and counter them with my own.  

Whether you accept my offer or not, please understand that it's silly to belittle the fans of the Colorado Avalanche, the very people that comprise the market for your program.  Regardless of whether or not we disagree with you, you rely on us.  Without our ears, you have no advertisers, and without advertisers you have no revenue.  No revenue means you're out of a job.

So quit lashing out at modern technology like my poor old grandfather and embrace the reality of New Media.  And while you're at it, quit painting us as boogie men and take the time to get to know us, our backgrounds and our opinions before you criticize us from on high while hiding behind call screeners.  It's called being accountable.

Joe

*The original email was sent to "mikeandsandy@950thefan," which is linked to from their site, but is apparently no longer active.  I did not receive a bounce back.  I have re-sent the email to a different address in hopes that I am no longer a "coward" or a "phony" for having unknowingly used the wrong address.

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