OHL suspends Battalion forward Mike Baird 20 games
North Bay Battalion forward Mike Baird, seen here battling Ottawa 67's forward Connor Graham for a loose puck during an OHL playoff game on March 16, was suspended by the league for 20 games on Tuesday. (Gord Young/QMI Agency)
The OHL suspended North Bay Battalion forward Mike Baird for 20 games Tuesday.
The league reviewed an incident from the Battalion’s April 10 Eastern Conference semifinal Game 4 against the Barrie Colts in Barrie.
The incident reviewed was a physical abuse of official, category 1 penalty assessed to Baird during the final stages of the third period of the Colts’ 7-4 win. Baird was originally assessed a game misconduct for a physical abuse of official, category 2 at 18:50 of the third, which was listed on the league’s website, and suspended indefinitely as a result.
Based on a review of the incident, “it is the position of the League that player Mike Baird shall be suspended for twenty (20) games, dating from but not including the playoff game of Thursday, April 10th, 2014.”
Ted Baker, vice-president of the OHL, said there was “very little” video of the incident between Baird and linesman Kevin Hastings and the review consisted of the linesman's report and a telephone conference hearing with Baird and Battalion director of hockey operations Stan Butler.
Baker said the interaction between Baird and Hastings — during a shift in which at least three fights had broken out between Battalion and Colts players and as Baird was being escorted to the Battalion bench — was “most inappropriate” and that Hastings was “just doing his job.”
“The player, Baird, having a hold of the linesman's sweater — up and around the upper part of the sweater — and sort of pushing upwards repeatedly,” Baker said, “you can't be doing that type of action. You can't be responding in that fashion regardless of what your intent is and what you want to do at the end of the day, and that's to come to the support of a teammate.
“But you can't react with an official, who's just trying to do his job, in that fashion.”
Baird, a 17-year-old rookie winger from Cayuga, Ont., has already served six games of that suspension, including the final two games of the Barrie series and all four Eastern Conference championship games against the Oshawa Generals.
The suspension cannot be appealed.
Although Baker said a suspension of this nature is “very, very rare” and won't be tolerated, he said Baird was contrite and showed remorse for his actions.
“He understood his actions were most inappropriate,” Baker said.
The Battalion begins the OHL finals Thursday on the road against the Guelph Storm.