Landon’s Springfield legacy: a labor of love

Feb. 5, 2014
Former Springfield Falcons President and part owner Bruce Landon announced his resignation in front of media and fans at a Feb. 4 press conference.

Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza

By Chris Maza

SPRINGFIELD – Standing at the podium, his hands shook a bit and his voice wavered, but it wasn’t until he took a long look at probably the one thing he loved more than hockey – his wife – that Bruce Landon succumbed to emotion and had to pause.

As he announced at a press conference on Feb. 4 that it was time to finally step down as the Springfield Falcons’ president and part owner, Landon thanked many, but it was his wife whom he spoke most eloquently of, detailing her steadfast support and faith in him through even the darkest times for himself and the franchise.

“Twenty years ago, I called Marcia up and I said, ‘Hon, I have some good news and I have some bad news. The good news is I think I have a group together to keep hockey in Springfield. The bad news is I have to come up with a bucket load of money,’” he recalled with a smile. “She never wavered once in her support. She never said I was crazy. She hung in there with me. We enjoyed some success with some Calder Cup championships and we endured some headaches and heartaches together. She was there with me when I paced the floor at 2 a.m. wondering what the hell we were going to do to get this thing heading in the right direction. She’s been right by my side all along.”

When we speak of Landon in the future, we should speak of him in this exact same way.

In introducing him at the press conference, owner Charlie Pompea appropriately referred to him as “your man, Bruce Landon.” That’s who he was – Springfield’s man.

For decades, Landon and Springfield hockey were synonymous; you couldn’t imagine one without the other. It’s because Landon believes in Springfield. When many wrote off the City of Homes through times of struggle, especially during an economic crisis from which the area is still feeling the effects, his faith has been unwavering.

After saving professional hockey in Springfield and keeping the game in town, even in bleak economic times, Landon is now getting some much needed time off.

More than once since the Falcons were born, Springfield was on the verge of losing hockey once again, but one way or another, whether it be through concerted season ticket sales efforts or seeking out new ownership, Landon kept one of the most important pieces of downtown Springfield’s entertainment culture alive.

Three years ago, Landon did it again with what he called “the best sales pitch ever given” to Pompea, who purchased the team and again brought the franchise back from the brink.

In Pompea, Springfield hockey has found another strong advocate. Charlie has been confident in the team’s ability to be viable here and has been visible – occasionally seen handing out free hats to fans in the stands.

Pompea’s daughter, Sarah, who will fill in as president in the interim, has also been a vital part of the Falcons while acting as vice president and heading up the Falcons Charitable Foundation, which has reached many worthy causes and ensured the team’s impact is not relegated to the ice.

Senior Vice President Bob Oliver, who has been with Landon nearly since the start 20 years ago, will continue to bring his passion and knowledge of the game and the area to the table in assisting Sarah as a search for someone to fill the vacancy.

Let that be in Landon’s legacy as well – even at the end, he didn’t walk away until he was confident the team and the city were in good hands. He won’t be far, however, as Landon will now serve as director of Hockey Operations.

For decades, Landon worked for Springfield and did more to see it succeed than most can say. Now, for the first time in a long time, he can finally sit back, relax and enjoy watching some hockey.

No one deserves it more.

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