February 13, 2012

AHL Journal: Bridgeport's Landry finally getting fair shot

By Dan Hickling

Bridgeport Sound Tigers defenseman Jon Landry stepped off the Cumberland County Civic Center ice the other morning, after prepping to play the Portland Pirates that night. 

Jon Landry scored 51 goals during his four years at Bowdoin College. (Photo by Dan Hickling)

No sooner had he stepped on solid ground than he was greeted with a, “Welcome back. Where have you been?”

Reaching deep to grab hold of his inner Johnny Cash, Landry quickly replied, “I've been all over the place. A little bit of everywhere.”

Everywhere except for Maine, where he spent four seasons playing forward (mostly) for Division 3 Bowdoin College.

And, everywhere but the AHL, where he had a two-game look with Portland back in March of 2006, and then disappeared for nearly six full years.

(Note: Landry is not to be confused with Jon A. Landry, the former Holy Cross defenseman who played in the AHL last season with Bridgeport, Worcester and Grand Rapids.)

So where in the world was he?

For the most part, in Arizona, where he spent four seasons with the CHL's Sundogs as one of that league's premier offensive defensemen.

Then there were side trips to Germany and England. The latter stop enabled him to work on his MBA degree, just like another Maine ex-pat, Mike Hoffman (and yes, there have been two AHLers playing under that name, too. But not to digress.)

Returning Stateside, Landry signed on last fall with the ECHL's Colorado Eagles, where Brent Thompson, Bridgeport's first-year bench boss, began his coaching career. Along the way, Landry took on some polish to some key parts to his game.

“I'm a much more well-rounded player,” he said. “I still have a passion for the game. It's never really left.”

So even though he'd fallen off the AHL radar, Landry was in the right spot when Thompson went looking for blueline help after top prospect Calvin de Haan went down with a long-term injury.

The timing couldn't have been better.

Landry arrived just as the Sound Tigers were hitting overdrive on their 12-game (11-0-1) point streak, and found himself on the club's first pairing with Ty Wishart.

And, showing that he could handle the faster, tougher AHL traffic, Landry racked up a goal and three assists in his first nine games, while keeping a respectable plus-4 rating.

“It's nice to be given a shot at this level,” said Landry, who hails from Montreal, “and to be given a fair look at. The coaches here have taken a liking to me. I'm just trying to stay around as long as possible.”

Indeed, although he wouldn't mind parlaying this visit into a tour of a spot he has yet to step foot in: the NHL.

“I'm so passionate about this game,” said Landry. “I'll do anything to play at the highest level. I've set my standard high. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to be playing at the highest level possible.”

Around the AHL

The big news off the ice this week was made in Providence, where it was announced that the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic will be staged at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. The Rhode Island hockey gala will cover four days, culminating with the All-Star Game, which will be played Jan. 28. It will be the third New England stop for the All-Stars in the past five years (Worcester in 2009, Portland in 2010) and the second time it will be held in Providence since 1995, when the AHL restored its All-Star Game after a 39-year hiatus. … Not to be overshadowed, the Labatt Blue Bubble Hockey Championship, which is being presented by the AHL, is now underway in 11 league cities, including all seven New England outposts. A winner from each city will be crowned, each to advance to the Tournament of Champions in Hershey, Pa., on March 31. … Wednesday also saw several Springfield Falcons take part in a pair of community outreach events held in the Greater Springfield area. Those were held in conjunction with both the Easter Seals and Munger Hill Elementary School. Said Falcons president Bruce Landon, “This symbolizes in many ways what the Springfield Falcons are all about. As I have said many times, it is not always about wins and losses. The Springfield Falcons are very proud of the work they have done over the years in the community.  Rarely, if ever, do I ask for recognition of our community work. However, this (effort) made me again realize how proud I am of this franchise and what we have accomplished over the years.”

Dan Hickling can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.