January 11, 2010
What would be more jarring for a college hockey player: Seeing a 29-year-old former NHL player lining up on his wing, or seeing one that served five years after pleading guilty in a failed murder-for-hire plot before being paroled?
According to the Chronicle Herald, Danton is in the process of enrolling at Saint Mary's University in Halifax and "could suit up for the Huskies hockey team over the second half" of the CIS season
This comes after being released from prison in September 2009 after serving five years for his part in a murder-for-hire plot that allegedly targeted his former agent David Frost (although Danton has said differently in repentant, sad exit interviews).
TSN quotes SMU Athletic Director Steve Sarty that a parole board blessing should arrive on Tuesday and that Danton's already taken "extension courses at Queen's University" and "correspondent courses at SMU while he was in prison," so he's technically a student anyway.
For any U.S. readers who might be confused, CIS regulations allow former professionals to play, with certain restrictions. Danton played only two seasons of pro hockey after turning 21, and he's obviously sat out a full 365 days, so he's good -- pending what the parole officials say, that is.
Huskies coach Trevor Stienburg was contacted by Danton about playing for his school, and met the eligibility requirements, according to the Herald:
Whatever happens, it's been a process with considerable soul-searching for Stienburg. "Initially I was very hesitant," Stienburg admitted about supporting Danton's desire. "But I was challenged by my players (to accept Danton) for all the right reasons."
A huge factor in Stienburg's support for Danton's request was discussions with his own father. Malcolm Stienburg, an ordained minister, is a former prison chaplain and a senior member of the national parole board. "Second chances," Stienburg said. "I grew up with them as part of my life. There's no question it's the right thing to do. He has paid the price for a mistake he's admitted was a huge mistake. He's already been punished for it."
While that's all very pious of the coach and his father, there's also no question that the Saint Mary's hockey Web site mentions nothing about being a halfway-house-on-skates for wayward former professionals who choose to become Canadian college athletes because they're out of options.
Sarty told TSN that it's all about forgiveness, and that "if we say no to Mike Danton, who are we going to say yes to?" We'll assume that he's asked enough boosters, students, parents and members of the community this question to know the answer before inviting Mike Danton onto his college hockey team.
Here's the transcript of Danton's interview with Sportsnet from last November. He deserves sympathy; it's up to the SMU community to determine how much their school should give him.
Thanks to Tyler C. for the story tip.