Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Than a Game

We are supposed to be working on the Prospect Preview for Dubi and the Blueshirt Bulletin but sometimes something bigger than you demands some attention and these are one of those times. Two weeks ago we wrote this about what Steve Valiquette was doing for a former teammate in need:

Sometimes the focus in the media is on all the bad that athletes do in today's sports world and not enough when someone stands up and does the right thing. We wanted to bring this to your attention because it helps to explain why we think the world of Steve Valiquette as a person not just as Henrik's backup.

We are here today because of Vally's willingness to help a former teammate in need. It is not the first time that Vally has done something to help others and we doubt it will be the last time either.

Vally along with former Erie Otter teammates Michael Rupp (Devils), Tim Connolly (Sabres) and others are coming together to help raise money for a former teammate in need. For those who know Vally already know that Vally's heart is a lot larger than his 6'6 frame.

The former teammate Jason Baird was burned over 65% of his body during a landscaping accident. To help Baird and his family cope with the medical expenses, Vally, his former Erie teammates and the Erie Otters are going to hold a fundraiser on Aug 19th in Erie.

For us the first report was about Vally being the kind of person we have come to respect as a player and more importantly as a human being. Then we got to discover what kind of person Jason Baird is and the more we learned the more we realized that we had to share with Ranger fans who Jason Baird is.

As a player, Jason Baird is a career minor leaguer having spent most of his career in the Central Hockey League. Baird as a player could best be described as another version of Sean Avery only without the flash or dash.

As a person we are discovering that Jason Baird is Adam Graves with a heart just as big as Gravy and like Gravy has touched the lives of people where ever Baird has played. Baird always gave of himself and even more so gave back to the community where he was playing in.

Guys like Baird do not make a lot of money playing hockey at the levels he played at, if they made 500 a week it was a miracle. Factor in being married, the father of three children and you know that Baird was not getting rich as a hockey player.

But that never stopped Baird from giving back, whether it was purchasing tickets so underpriviledged kids could attend games while as a member of the Corpus Christi Ice Rays or starting "Baird's Bunch" to help at-risk youth have some hope of a future this is the Jason Baird we are getting to know about.

People in Erie, Pa, in Corpus Cristi, Tx, Youngstown, Oh, and Cayuga, Ont are coming together to hold benefits in order to help raise money for the Baird family. It is perhaps a unique situation when the person who used to give so much of himself is now getting help from those who's lives he touched.

Baird's wife Bethany has been keeping a daily journal over at and if you can read the battle that both Bairds have been fighting and not be touched then something is wrong.

This week is supposed to be about getting ready for the Canadian Juniors training camps but it is also when a couple of benefits are being held for the Baird family starting Tuesday in Erie. The Erie Otters are hosting at the Warner Theater in Erie as Vally and his friends are going to do their part to help raise some money.

Then next Sunday on the 24th in Youngstown Ohio, it will be the home of the former Steelhounds team hosting a benefit as current and former NHL players will suit up against minor league players in an exhibition game as well as 3 different kinds of fund raising events.

We could not help but notice that one of the items up for bid is tickets to a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. For more information about this event check out this link here.

It says something when fans of the teams that Baird played for and fans of teams that Baird played against have come together to help the Baird family. Players from all over the NHL have been giving items for a guy who never got any higher than a short stint in the ECHL.

While Baird tries to recover in the Akron Children's Hospital with his wife Bethany constantly at his side, the Baird children are with family back in Cayuga, Ont with other family members.

A fund has been started to help the Baird family out as donations can be sent to

Baird Family Fund
PO Box 264
Perry, OH 44081

The most requested items have been for gas and/or phone cards.

We will keep folks updated as we hear more.

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