Former Blues forward Mike Danton will probably always be tied to the team. It's next to impossible to read anything about him without the author mentioning the team that he played for when he was arrested in 2004 for conspiracy to commit the murder of his agent David Frost. Danton pled guilty to hiring a hit man who was in all actuality an undercover police dispatcher, and was sentenced to 90 months in jail. He was parolled on September 11, 2009, and that parole is now over. One would think that would give him a chance to regain his livelihood, but few have given him a chance to do so -- and those who have are facing obstacles in their quest to give Danton his life back.
Danton recently wrote a blog post at Gongshow Wear about his attempts to get back into professional hockey. The 31 year old began his hockey comeback with the Saint Mary's Huskies of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Danton worked hard on and off the ice, maintaining a 3.9 GPA while helping the Huskies win the University Cup. During the next off-season, Danton announced via Twitter that he had signed with IFK Ore of Swedish Division I hockey. This was his first professional gig since he laced up the skates with the Blues, and IFK made him captain immediately. He even saved a teammates life after Marcus Bengtsson began to convulse after hitting his head on the ice. Danton grabbed his tongue and kept the young man from choking to death.
Danton finished that season with Orli Znojmo of the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, and the following season Danton planned to spend with the Coventry Blaze of the Elite Hockey League in the United Kingdom. This is where Danton's tale of redemption hits a rough patch.
Danton worries in his blog post about what would happen if the UK denies him an entry visa based on his prior criminal record:
All I am asking for is my opportunity. It is not even guaranteed that I will receive my UK entry visa for this season. What would I do if the decision for me to enter the UK were to be denied by the border agency? Where would I play? How would I support my family? And what type of message would that send to other people that are desperate for second chances in their own lives? It would give them no hope.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened with Danton. He's re-applying, and the Blaze are trying to get the border patrol agency to view Danton's case with sympathy because of how hard he has worked to get his life back on track after being released from prison. Danton already can't travel to the United States because of his criminal record, basically preventing him from playing in the pro leagues in North America. He is now continuing to be punished despite working hard for a second chance.
Danton, in his blog post, compares his situation with that of Michael Vick and Dany Heatley. He states that both professional athletes were forgiven for their misdeeds and allowed to return to their leagues. Danton? Despite working so hard for redemption, it seems like people take every opportunity to deny that to him.
His main goal is to return to playing NHL hockey, if his abilities allow him to. He doesn't want to be disallowed from the NHL because of his record; if he can't play in the greatest league on earth, he'd prefer it be because of skill. Unfortunately, no matter how hard Danton wants people to move on from his past, it's ever-present.