HALIFAX — It will likely be another two weeks before Mike Danton, the former NHL player who served five years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot, is allowed on the ice to play hockey for a university in Halifax, the school’s athletic director said Friday.
Steve Sarty said Danton is keen to suit up for Saint Mary’s University, but he is still on parole and it will be up to the Correctional Service of Canada to determine when the 29-year-old can play varsity hockey.
"He’s had a lot of changes in the last four or five days … To add hockey at this point, they’ve decided is not the right thing to do," Sarty said.
The federal agency is assessing Danton’s living arrangements and his support network, among other things, Sarty said.
"Once they complete their initial assessment then they can say, ‘We’re comfortable with this phase, now we can allow him to be on the hockey team."’
Danton was released from a United States prison in March of last year after he was convicted in 2004 in a failed murder-for-hire plot. He returned to Canada and was granted full parole last September. The prosecution in the case in the U.S. said the target of the plot was David Frost, his agent at the time, but Danton — in a convoluted exchange at the National Parole Board last year — suggested the intended victim was his father.
He arrived at Saint Mary’s earlier this week.
Sarty said Danton is coping well and has attended two days of classes.
"He is an excited, appreciative young man," he said. "I talked to him again last night and he can’t believe the amount of support he’s getting from people who don’t even know him."
The Correctional Service of Canada wants Danton’s transition to student life to remain private, and any talk of hockey is a secondary concern, Sarty added.
When asked if Danton is talking about returning to hockey, Sarty said that much is clear.
"He has a strong passion to play hockey. That’s what he wants to do. But he understands that is a very unique situation and he’s going to do everything that Corrections Canada says he should do. He’s not going to step out of line."
Even though the Saint Mary’s Huskies men’s hockey team — ranked eighth nationally — was scheduled to play the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds on Friday night, Sarty said Danton was not expected to be at the Halifax arena.
"He’ll be catching up on his homework," he said.
Danton has completed some correspondence courses from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., and has enrolled in sociology courses at Saint Mary’s.
A return to the NHL is unlikely because his criminal record would prevent him from returning to the U.S.
He scored 10 goals in 92 games with the St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils over the course of his short NHL career.