Building the Herd – Brendan BairdPosted: 20/06/2014
#51 Brendan Baird
Born: Southampton, Hampshire
Announced as signed: Bison website, 18th June
With the announcement that one member of the family was back in town, the Bison added to it with the news that Doug Sheppard had signed up and coming defensive talent Brendan Baird from Bracknell. Brendan and Joe become the latest set of brothers on the roster to ice for the Bison at the same time joining names like Dean and Ashley Skinns, Andy and Kris Melachrino and of course Tony and Kenny Redmond.
Baird, 18 started as a member of the Basingstoke junior system before moving to the highly thought of junior system at The Hive and he has made steady progression at Bracknell ever since. 2010/11 saw him make his debut at under 16 level with the Stingers before splitting the next season between the Stingers and the under 18 Drones. 2012/13 saw Brendan make his debut in senior hockey as he played 20 games for the Hornets in NIHL 1 South alongside a productive 14 points in 15 games with the Drones and they finished 3rd in the league. 2013/14 was a banner year for Brendan; he played 19 games for the Hornets, scoring 5 points and also made his debut in the EPL for the Bees scoring 2 goals and an assist from defence in 10 contests. Still playing with the Drones, the Bracknell under 18s swept the board. They won the league losing only 1 game, won the North/South final against Nottingham at the Skydome before the Bison won the EPL playoff trophy and then topped it off with the National Championship, capturing the Rob Laidler Plate at the EIHA’s end of season junior hockey showcase as they defeated local rivals Guildford 3-1.
Brendan, who can play as a forward but will play on defence for the Bison, finishes junior hockey with 68 points from 77 games combined at under 16 and 18 levels.
Firstly, interesting choice of #51 by Brendan; someone suggested a brother fight for #15 but I think Joe appears to have already won this battle.
Since taking over as the coach of the Bison, I’d argue that Doug Sheppard’s record with young forwards is pretty good but his record with young defencemen isn’t that hot. Elliott Dewey appeared on the Bison roster at the start of last season, sat on the bench for about a dozen games then vanished off to the Buffalo and the club never officially explained why or gave a mention as to his removal from the full time EPL roster. As such it will be interesting to see how Brendan is initially handled but Sheppard appears to be signing a player with qualities and potential for this to work well for all concerned.
Sheppard has made it clear that Baird is the 6th defenceman which instantly lays out what we expected; to start with he’ll get no special teams play and will be used sparingly in the rotation. However Sheppard has shown that if he feels the situation is right that he will play younger players. Ingoldsby, Mogg and Wynn all were given chances in their respective positions when a shuffle was needed.
Defence however is a very different situation than playing up front. Many in Coventry felt that was part of the reason that Paul Thompson tried to use Matt Selby as a forward at EIHL level; because he wasn’t at the required standard at his natural position and it was a risk to put him there. The EPL does offer the luxury of a) not being a step too high for Brendan as he’s already proven that he’s worthy of a chance at this level and b) existing for this exact purpose; to develop young talent and under a coach with trophy winning pedigree and alongside the calibre of the already signed players he will get decent training and game time situations.
Why he’s chosen to do that away from Bracknell is interesting. If anything it’s arguably a better setup for a young player wanting to develop in some ways with NIHL 1 and EPL an option (the drop from EPL to NIHL2 is rather more pronounced) but maybe the lure of training with a team that is more likely to challenge and the chance to play alongside his brother at senior level before he retires (Joe can’t play forever obviously) is one that Brendan wants to take.
It’s a big step for the young man as he approaches his first full season of EPL hockey. His pedigree and skills at youth levels speak volumes for him and Sheppard, who has at least made an effort to bleed in younger players with a connection to the town feels that this is a viable skill set to add to the roster. Let’s see what he does with it.
Welcome aboard, Brendan.