THE Basingstoke Bison have beefed up their defence for the forthcoming season with the re-signing of hard-hitting defenceman Joe Baird.

The 37-year-old is one of the most experienced blue liner in the English Premier League having played over 650 games.

The Southampton-born player began his career in the Bison junior set-up, making his senior debut at the age of 14 in season 1994/95.

As a teenager, Baird played in the Bison’s final year in the Superleague and then their first four seasons in the British National League.

During this time he was part of the Herd’s Benson and Hedges Plate triumphs against Slough and Guildford, scoring in both finals at the Sheffield Arena.

He then had spells at the Wightlink Raiders, Bracknell Bees and Swindon Wildcats.

During this time, he guested for the Bison in 2008, helping them to the final of the Elite League Knockout Cup.

The blue liner returned to the Herd in their double-winning season of 2013/14 and was also a member of the league winning team two years later.

Last term his fourth straight with the team, he finished with 18 points from 52 games scoring just once.

His return takes the Herd's blue line brigade to three after the signing of Elliott Dewey and Dan Scott earlier in the summer.

Bison head coach Doug Sheppard is delighted to have Baird back and said: “It is great to get him back as he is a very experienced player. He is a leader both on and off the ice."

Baird is looking forward to the new season and said: "It is a new challenge being in this league and there are a lot of EPL players floating around. We will be looking to do well and as a senior player I will be looking to help the younger players."