Baird missed the first nine games of the 2006-07 season while recovering from shoulder surgery, but went on to contribute seven assists in 34 games. He underwent another shoulder surgery this summer. This time, however, the possibility of complete recovery was slim, and the risk of permanent injury was too great.
"I feel badly for Ryan, and he is pretty bummed out, but he is going to be OK," Roque said. "The thing I liked about him was that, during the playoffs, he was never afraid to handle the puck and make plays. He always wanted to be out on the ice. I don't think losing him hurts us right away, because we wouldn't have had him back until December anyway. But I'm sure it will affect us a bit down the road."
According to Roque, Baird has put in over 1,800 hours as a journeyman electrician and will continue to work in that field.
Roque has picked up Alpena IceDiggers defenseman Ben Kitzmiller, who is a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from Lambertville. He totaled 13-19--32 in 59 games last season. Kitzmiller has played two seasons with the Ice Diggers.
"They contacted us and needed a guy to come in and play right away and Ben is more than ready to play and we couldn't be happier for him and his family," Alpena coach-GM Kenny Miller said.
"Ken Miller really helped us out," Roque said. "We were calling around when Ryan was talking about retiring. He encouraged Ben to come here when he could have played another year of juniors. Ben is a big, strong kid and had a good year in the NAHL. He really wants to go to college. He's more of an offensive defenseman, and gives us some depth on defense."