AHL Hall of Fame (via AHL)
The AHL has announced Bruce Cline, Ralph Keller, Jean-Francois Labbe and Bruce Landon will be inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame in 2016. The four inductees will be honored during the AHL’s all-star weekend with the official induction coming on Feb. 1, 2016 in Syracuse.
The AHL has announced its Hall of Fame class of 2016, and Bruce Cline, Ralph Keller, Jean-Francois Labbe — all of whom played for the Hershey Bears — and Bruce Landon will make up the 11th group of inductees into the league’s Hall of Fame.
Cline, 83, was a career AHLer who spent the bulk of his career with three teams in the minor league. He began his AHL tenure with the Providence Reds and spent three seasons with the club before a one-year stint with the Buffalo Bisons. After moving on from Buffalo, Cline spent four years with the Springfield (Mass.) Indians and five with the Hershey Bears before his playing career ended in 1968.
Over his 823 game AHL career, Cline notched 321 goals and 773 points. He was the AHL rookie of the year in 1955-56 and scored three goals and six points in the post-season to help Providence to a Calder Cup victory. In Springfield, Cline helped the team capture three consecutive Calder Cups from 1960 to 1962.
Keller, 79, was a legendary blueliner for the Hershey Bears. Though he began his career with the Reds in 1957-58 and played one season with the Baltimore Clippers in 1962-63, Keller spent the following 11 seasons with the Bears, suiting up for 737 games in a Herhsey uniform, the third-most in franchise history.
By the end of his career, Keller finished with 408 points in a Bears uniform, the 10th highest point total in team history and the most of any defenseman to ever play for the club. In 1968-69 and 1973-74, Keller helped the Bears to Calder Cup victories.
Labbe, 43, is the only modern-era player among the inductees and the only goaltender. Over a 10-year AHL career, Labbe suited up for 420 games with a record of 202-151-52, 2.77 goals-against average, .912 save percentage and 27 shutouts.
Few goaltenders have had a year like Labbe’s 1996-97 campaign with the Hershey Bears. Labbe was named the league’s top goaltender and MVP after posting 34 wins, 2.55 GAA and six shutouts. He continued his incredible play into the post-season and led the Bears to a Calder Cup victory. Labbe finished his professional career in Germany in 2007 and now serves as an assistant coach with the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix.
The final inductee, Landon, is the only without ties to Hershey. Also a goaltender, Landon’s career came to an end at 28 following a knee injury, which led him into the front office with the Springfield Indians. He became the team’s GM by 1982 and built teams that won consecutive Calder Cups in 1990 and 1991. Once the Indians franchise left Springfield, Landon worked to bring a new team — named the Falcons — to the city in 1994. He will serve his 39th year as an executive with Springfield in 2015-16.
The four inductees will be honored at the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic in Syracuse, N.Y., with the induction and awards ceremony scheduled for Monday, Feb. 1, the same day as the league’s All-Star Game.