SPRINGFIELD, MA- Bruce Landon will be honored this Friday night as the Springfield Thunderbirds take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms as part of Bruce Landon Legacy night. Landon says that he is very humbled and honored to be part of this event.
Landon feels he has been a very fortunate guy in his hockey career. His love for the game started when he was just four years old and eventually led to him being inducted into the American Hockey League Hall Of Fame as well as the Massachusetts Hockey Hall Of Fame. While incredibly humbled, he is also very appreciative of Paul Picknelly and the ownership group, as well as Nathan Costa and the Thunderbirds management team for holding this night in his honor.
He met with Picknelly and told him he was going to retire at the end of the year. He wanted to keep it low-key and quiet, but Picknelly insisted that they team do their part in honoring the local legend. Landon feels Nathan Costa has been wonderful putting together the bobblehead doll night along with Steve Kunsey and Chris Thompson. He is very honored, very surprised, and very humbled by it all. Landon will enjoy every minute of it. He knows he has a lot of friends and family coming and they will all enjoy the moment.
“It means a great to deal to me,” Landon Said.
Landon has been a staple in the City Of Springfield for five decades. His contributions are second to none for what he has done for the growth of the game. When the Portland Pirates were being relocated to Springfield, he was able to share his knowledge in the industry of leases and affiliation deals, and his guidance was key in securing the affiliation agreement with the Florida Panthers.
Landon feels back in 1994 and in 2010 he played an important role in saving hockey in the City Of Springfield, but this time around he feels local businessman Paul Picknelly and his ownership group that he put together stepped up to the plate to spend the money to purchase the franchise from Portland to relocate it to Springfield.
“I just played a role using my knowledge of having gone through it of what it would take to get it done,” Landon Said.
There are so many memories for Landon to look back on. His professional playing career started back in 1969, and it’s a moment he will always remember. In his first pro game, Landon earned a shutout with a 6-0 win. and the year culminated with a trip to the Calder Cup Finals. He logged a lot of minutes in his rookie campaign and in his second season, he was a part of a Calder Cup Championship team, despite being injured throughout the playoffs.
After the 1993-94 season, Peter Cooney sold the Springfield Indians and they packed up and relocated to Worcester, MA to become the Worcester Icecats.
“You always look at getting involved in ownership. In 1994, when there was no hockey here. myself and Wayne LaChance and a couple other people were able to put a group together to buy a franchise and keep hockey here. Certainly, that meant a whole bunch to me especially being the General Manager of back to back Calder Cups Teams when we actually had some say on the hockey on the ice. you’re a little more involved so being a General Manager of back to back Calder Cup championship teams is certainly memories I’ll always have,” Landon said.
Landon’s family has always been supportive through all the years. He and his wife went through all the tough times. It is easy to go through the good times but Landon’s wife held in there through adversity as well.
“You need the support of family. You don’t last as long as I did in professional hockey without the support of family and I was fortunate enough to have it with my wife and certainly my kids,” Landon said.
Landon will be retiring at the end of the 2016-17 Springfield Thunderbirds campaign. He is looking forward to spending more quality time with family and also to see what the next chapter brings for him.
Landon can always say he’s worked hard, put a lot of hours in and believed his work ethic was a strong suit. There wasn’t a day where he didn’t enjoy his work in hockey as a player and in his management role. Landon enjoyed going to work every single day and not many people can say how much they love their job. Landon feels it is time to retire and he can walk away knowing that professional hockey is here in Springfield and here to stay which has always been his ultimate goal.
The one thing Landon hopes people will say is that he was always available through the good and bad times and that he answered every e-mail, letter, and phone call.
“You can’t shy away from criticism. Even when you know its tough at times. You have to take your bullets. You enjoy the good times and the nice things people are saying about you but you can learn an awful lot listening to our fans. We have a passionate hardcore group of fans,” Landon said.
His final day is slated for Friday, April 28th and that is barring any last minute miracle in regards to making the playoffs. If the Thunderbirds do play in the postseason, Landon will definitely stay on until then.
Landon did care and was passionate about hockey in Springfield. Landon made a good living out of it. He came here in 1969 as a young rookie settled into the area and raised a family here and loved the area. What Landon is so proud of is that he is always passionate about hockey here in Springfield and always worked as hard as he can to make sure it stays in Springfield and sometimes things are out of people’s control but things worked out. Landon hopes he treated people with respect both players, and NHL teams. Landon believes he has worked with 17 different NHL teams throughout his career one way or another. A lot of those people are still his friends in the NHL and certainly in the AHL.
“You just hope you treated people with respect and they appreciate the fact you worked hard to do something you believed in,” Landon said.
The Thunderbirds will take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this Friday at the MassMutual Center at 7:05 P.M.
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