Springfield Falcons

The Springfield Falcons were an ice hockey team in the American Hockey League (AHL) and played in Springfield, Massachusetts, at the MassMutual Center.

Springfield Falcons
CitySpringfield, Massachusetts
LeagueAmerican Hockey League
Home arenaMassMutual Center
ColorsBlue, black, red, gray, white
General managerBruce Landon
MediaThe Springfield Republican
WHYN NewsRadio 560
Franchise history
1994–2016Springfield Falcons
2016–presentTucson Roadrunners
Division Championships4 (1995–96, 1997–98, 2012–13, 2013–14)

In 2016, the Falcons' franchise was purchased by the National Hockey League (NHL)'s Arizona Coyotes and relocated to Tucson, Arizona, before the start of the 2016–17 AHL season.


The beginning

In 1994, the longtime AHL Springfield Indians team was sold to interests that moved the franchise to Worcester, Massachusetts, to become the Worcester IceCats (now the Utica Comets). Ex-Indian players Bruce Landon, then the general manager of the Indians, and Wayne LaChance, a local rink owner and former member of the Springfield Kings, secured an expansion franchise for Springfield for the 1994–95 season. The Indians name was still under trademark, so the new owners named the team after Andy and Amelia, a pair of nesting peregrine falcons that was a popular local civic symbol. The AHL, which was headquartered in nearby West Springfield, was keen to maintain a presence in a city that had hosted a team in the AHL or its predecessors for all but nine years since 1926, and readily granted an expansion franchise to Landon and LaChance.

The Falcons secured affiliation with both the Hartford Whalers and the Winnipeg Jets of the NHL. Since the Indians had been the Whalers' top affiliate in their last few years, this allowed the Falcons to secure most of the players who had played for the Indians the previous season. Veteran defenseman John Stevens (the last captain of the Indians, who shared the co-captaincy that first year with Rob Murray) scored the franchise's first goal.

Among the Falcons' early notable players were Jean-Guy Trudel, the franchise's leading career goal and point scorer; Daniel Briere of the Colorado Avalanche; Manny Legace, the franchise's all-time leading goaltender and former St. Louis Blues starter; Nikolai Khabibulin, former Stanley Cup winning goalie; and Rob Murray, the franchise's long-time captain and inspirational leader. During the 2004 season, Springfield fans voted on the Web for the club's 10th Anniversary Team, and selected Briere at center, Trudel at left wing, Tavis Hansen at right wing, Brad Tiley and Dan Focht on defense and Legace in goal.

Individual honors won by Falcons players during their first thirteen seasons included the Baz Bastien Award given to the league's best goaltender (to Legace in 1996 and Scott Langkow in 1998), Briere winning the Red Garrett Award emblematic of rookie of the year and a nod as First Team All-Star center in 1998, Tiley winning the Eddie Shore Award for the league's outstanding defenseman in 2000 and Trudel winning a Second Team All-Star award in 1999–00.

After the Whalers relocated to become the Carolina Hurricanes, the Falcons were subsequently affiliated exclusively with the Jets, an affiliation that continued when that team became the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996. The team was then affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning between 2004 and 2007.

The team had finished in first place in its division twice and made the playoffs six times in its first nine seasons. However, after three seasons affiliated with Tampa Bay and nine straight losing seasons, the team announced that it was exercising its option to sever relations with the Lightning. On March 19, 2007, they announced an affiliation with the Edmonton Oilers beginning in the 2007–08 season until the conclusion of the 2009–10 season.

The Edmonton Oilers affiliation

On August 3, 2007, the team hired former Edmonton Oilers player Kelly Buchberger to be the head coach. After posting a .500 record, the Oilers promoted Buchberger to be an assistant coach on the Oilers staff. On June 17, 2008, assistant coach Jeff Truitt was named the team's tenth head coach. He was fired in February 2009, after 50 games, and replaced by former Houston Aeros coach Rob Daum. The Falcons finished the 2008–09 season with the worst record in the AHL.

On June 23, 2009, Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini announced that Daum would remain the head coach of the Springfield Falcons through the 2009–10 season. From November 25 to January 1, the Falcons went on a franchise record 17-game losing streak, recording only five points in that span. The Falcons finished the 2009–10 season as the worst team in the AHL once again, and was the only team that did not win at least 30 games. The lone bright spot from the season was Charles Linglet being named a Second Team All-Star.

On February 9, 2010, the Edmonton Oilers announced that they were severing ties with the Springfield Falcons to move their affiliation to Oklahoma City, a decision that had been expected for months.

The Columbus Blue Jackets affiliation

On March 25, 2010, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced a one-year affiliation agreement with a one-year option. Also introduced was a new jersey and logo. The new logo still had a falcon holding a hockey stick, but the background was changed to grey, the word Falcons to red, and the word Springfield to navy blue. The new ECHL affiliation was with the Evansville IceMen.

Rob Riley, the former head coach at the United States Military Academy, was named the new head coach of the Falcons on August 3, 2010, replacing Daum. The Falcons opened the 2010–11 AHL season with a home-and-home matchup against the Providence Bruins. To honor the 75th anniversary of the AHL, each team wore throwback jerseys from 1936. The Bruins wore the jerseys of the Providence Reds while the Falcons wore the jerseys of the Springfield Indians. The Falcons won the first game in Providence 5–1, while the Bruins took the following game in Springfield 6–5.

On December 21, 2010, it was announced that the Falcons had been sold to Charlie Pompea, while Bruce Landon remained the minority owner, and continued to be the president/general manager.

During the 2011–12 season, the Falcons honored the Springfield hockey teams that had won the Calder Cup, wearing commemorative jerseys for those games, and honoring former coaches and players in pre-game festivities. Following the season, Rob Riley was fired as head coach after two seasons of missing the playoffs. Assistant coach Brad Larsen was named head coach for the 2012–13 season.

The 2012–13 season, beginning with the 2012–13 NHL lockout, saw the Falcons make the playoffs for the first time since 2003. With help of NHL players Matt Calvert, Cam Atkinson, Ryan Johansen, John Moore and Tim Erixon, the Falcons were able to take an early lead in both the Northeast Division and the Eastern Conference. When the NHL lockout ended and these players were called up to Columbus, the Falcons continued to stay at the top of the standings. All-Star play from goaltender Curtis McElhinney and forward Jonathan Marchessault, as well as veteran leadership from team captain Ryan Craig, helped guide the team to a first-place finish in the Northeast Division. On April 6, 2013, the Falcons qualified for the 2013 Calder Cup playoffs, ending a nine-year playoff drought, the longest in AHL history.[1] The Falcons defeated the Manchester Monarchs in the first round three games to one, with all of their wins coming in overtime. The Falcons playoff run came to an end at the hands of the Syracuse Crunch, as the Crunch swept the Falcons out of the playoffs in their second round matchup. Winger Jonathan Marchessault was named to the First All-Star team, while goaltender Curtis McElhinney was named a Second Team All-Star.

The 2013–14 Falcons set a team record for wins (47) and points (100).[2] They suffered a first round defeat in the playoffs at the hands of the Providence Bruins in 5 games.

On February 4, 2014, the Springfield Falcons announced that Bruce Landon would be retiring. Landon had served as president, general manager and co-owner since 1994. He remained with the team as director of hockey operations.[3] Sarah Pompea, the daughter of owner Charlie Pompea, was named the new team president.

While it was initially announced that the entire coaching staff would return to Springfield for the 2014–15 season, head coach Brad Larsen was promoted to an assistant coach in Columbus. On June 16, 2014, Columbus announced that Jared Bednar would become head coach and he continued to be joined by assistant coach Nolan Pratt, in addition to first year assistant Toby Petersen. In the 2014–15 season, the team set a franchise record with 11 consecutive wins. The streak lasted from November 14 through December 6, and propelled the Falcons back into first place in the Northeast Division. However, a poor March cost the team as they missed the playoffs, finishing in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Arizona Coyotes affiliation

On April 17, 2015, the Springfield Falcons and Arizona Coyotes announced that they had reached a three-year affiliation agreement.[4] This was part of change of affiliations for the 2015–16 season where Columbus would have their AHL team in Lake Erie, the Colorado Avalanche in San Antonio and the Florida Panthers would be tied to the Portland Pirates.[5]

The Coyotes hired Ron Rolston as the team's head coach, with Doug Janik and Mike Bavis as his assistants for the 2015–16 season. Dustin Jeffrey was named a Second Team All-Star, although he finished the season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins after being traded at the trade deadline. The season was one of the worst in franchise history and marked the 11th time in 13 seasons that the club missed the playoffs, finishing with the second lowest points percentage in the AHL and the most regulation losses.

On April 19, 2016, the Arizona Coyotes signed an agreement to purchase the team. The Coyotes had been in negotiations to relocate the franchise to Tucson, Arizona, for the 2016–17 season and join the other AHL Pacific Division teams created in the previous season.[6]

On May 4, 2016, the Portland Pirates announced that it had signed a letter of intent with an outside buyer to sell and relocate the franchise for the 2016–17 season.[7] It was reported that the team would be relocated to Springfield following the pending sale and relocation of the Falcons franchise.[8]

The AHL Board of Governors conditionally approved of the sale and relocation of the Falcons on May 10,[9] pending approval of a deal through Tucson's city council.[10] On May 17, the Coyotes and the Tucson city council came to terms on a lease agreement for the 2016–17 season to meet the conditions of the AHL approval.[11] The Pirates' sale and relocation to Springfield was approved on May 23,[12] to subsequently become the Springfield Thunderbirds.

This market was previously home to:

Season-by-season results

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Games Won Lost Tied OTL SOL Points PCT Goals
Standing Year Prelims 1st
1994–958031371274.4632692895th, North1995Out of Playoffs
1995–96804222115100.6252722151st, North1996W, 3–1, PROL, 2–4, POR
1996–9780412512296.6002682292nd, New England1997W, 3–2, PORW, 4–1, PROL, 3–4, HER
1997–988045267299.6192782481st, New England1998L, 1–3, WOR
1998–998035359180.5002452323rd, New England1999L, 0–3, HAR
1999–0080333511178.4882722524th, New England2000L, 2–3, HAR
2000–018029378672.4502532806th, New England2001Out of Playoffs
2001–028035412274.4632132375th, North2002Out of Playoffs
2002–038034387176.4752022434th, East2003W, 2–0 HARL, 1–3, HAM
2003–048026439263.3941792347th, Atlantic2004Out of Playoffs
2004–058024473657.3561612557th, Atlantic2005Out of Playoffs
2005–068028433665.4062203126th, Atlantic2006Out of Playoffs
2006–078028491259.3691812687th, Atlantic2007Out of Playoffs
2007–088035355580.5002142575th, Atlantic2008Out of Playoffs
2008–098024448460.3751882587th, Atlantic2009Out of Playoffs
2009–1080253912466.4132072968th, Atlantic2010Out of Playoffs
2010–118035402375.4692322536th, Atlantic2011Out of Playoffs
2011–127636343378.5132172314th, Northeast2012Out of Playoffs
2012–137645225499.6512351861st, Northeast2013W, 3–1, MANL, 0-4, SYR
2013–1476472315100.6512472121st, Northeast2014L, 2-3, PRO
2014–157638288286.5661922093rd, Northeast2015Out of Playoffs
2015–167626423560.3951942658th, Atlantic2016Out of Playoffs


Retired numbers

Note: Former AHL President Jack Butterfield and Vice-President Gordie Anziano, longtime Springfield residents, were honored with banners raised with the retired numbers.

Team awards

At the end of each season, the team awarded individual players with:

  • The Jim Denver "Good Guy" Award
  • The Al Lawrence Best Defensive Player Award
  • The Florence Kurdziel "Unsung Hero" Award
  • The Muriel Strauss Good Sportsmanship Award
  • The Dick Casey True Grit Award
  • The Ross Lowe Award as team MVP

List of team captains

Notable NHL alumni

List of Springfield Falcons alumni who played at least 100 games in Springfield and played 100 or more games in the National Hockey League:

AHL Hall of Famers

List of Springfield Falcons alumni later inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame.

Team records

Single season

Goals: John LeBlanc, 39 (1994–95)
Goals by a Rookie: Daniel Briere, 36 (1997–98)
Assists: Jean-Guy Trudel, 65 (2000–01)
Points: Jean-Guy Trudel, 99 (2000–01)
Penalty Minutes: Rob Murray, 373 (1994–95)
Appearances by a Goalie: Devan Dubnyk, 62 (2008–09)
GAA: Manny Legace 2.27 (1995–96)
SV%: Curtis McElhinney, .923 (2012–13)
Shutouts: Curtis McElhinney, 9 (2012–13)


These are the top ten scorers in Falcons' history. Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points

Jean-Guy TrudelLW22890152242
Rob MurrayRW50161157218
Daniel BriereRW16988129217
Jason JaspersC31786114200
Ryan CraigLW3059486180
Brad TileyD23933130163
Tavis HansenC2987979158
Eric HealeyLW1785780137
Jason McBainD2083587122
Rob SchrempF1473088118
Career Penalty Minutes: 1529 Rob Murray
Career Goaltending Wins: 64 Manny Legace
Career Shutouts: 9 Curtis McElhinney
Career Games: 501 Rob Murray
Career Goals: 94 Ryan Craig
Career Shorthanded Goals: 5 Andrew Joudrey

Single game

Goals: 4 Jean-Guy Trudel, Daniel Briere, Grant Potulny, Chad Wiseman, Jack Skille
Points: 6 Chad Wiseman

List of NHL affiliates


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