SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – It’s a Thunderbirds gameday more than three decades in the making. The Calder Cup Finals return to Springfield for the first time since 1991.
We caught up with an integral part of that 1991 team, who brought three titles to the city of Springfield. Following a magical postseason run by the T-Birds, he’s hopeful the hardware will return to the 413 this season.
“It’s great for the city, great for everybody, and it’s just rewarding after all the years that I was here just to see hopefully a Calder Cup coming back to Springfield after a long, long time,” said former Springfield AHL player and general manager Bruce Landon.
On the street that bears his name, Landon spoke with Western Mass News about the last team to hoist a Calder Cup in Springfield 31 years ago.
“We filled to capacity for our playoff games and we actually thought we probably could’ve sold another 500 to 1,000 tickets. That’s what the buzz was and I think that’s what we’re seeing here right now with the Thunderbirds,” Landon explained.
Landon played for the Springfield Kings in 1971 and served as the general manager for back-to-back titles in 1990 and 91. He also played an instrumental role in keeping AHL hockey in Springfield following the departure of the Indians and Falcons.
“I feel very comfortable that after all the years I put into it that the team is here to stay…so I can sit back now and watch it and enjoy it and be proud of the fact that I had a little bit of a role in making sure it stayed here,” Landon noted.
Now with the T-Birds set to host the Chicago Wolves for Games 3 through 5 of the Calder Cup Finals beginning on Wednesday night, it’s a point of reflection and recognition of the current front office’s hard work.
“These opportunities don’t come along every year, so you take advantage of it, milk it the best you can, but you also sit back and enjoy it,” Landon added.
Down the street, something’s brewing at White Lion Brewery, where Ray Berry is looking to bottle up some magic and pay tribute to the T-Birds with a special edition “30Won” golden ale.
“It’s time now for everyone to rally for this last hurrah and bring the cup back to Springfield,” Berry explained.
The concoction on the ice has Landon hopeful about raising an eighth championship banner in the MassMutual Center.
“They’ve got great goaltending, strong defense. It seems like a team that can beat you by scoring a lot of goals or just hunker down, play good defense, and win with great goaltending, so they have the right mix to go all the way here,” Landon said.
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