'I'm here for Mike'

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Brad Bonello is standing by his friend, Mike Danton. That's what friends do, right?

Bonello, the Ottawa 67's overage forward, last spoke to Danton -- who was sentenced Monday to 7 1/2 years in jail for a failed murder-for-hire plot -- about three weeks ago.

He intends to talk to him again, soon.

Prosecutors in East St. Louis, Ill., said the intended target for Danton's bizarre plot was David Frost, the controversial agent for Danton, Bonello and other players (Frost has alleged the target was Danton's father).

"I don't care what anybody thinks about Mike and our friendship," said Bonello yesterday at the Civic Centre where the 67's practised. "Same as they don't care what I think about them and their friends.

"I'm just here for Mike. I'll always be there for him. You stand by your friends. My full support is behind Mike and Dave. You never bail on a friend. You might need them down the road."

Bonello said the 7 1/2-year sentence looks "kind of like a victory." After Danton pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy charges in July, he was looking at a minimum sentence of seven years and a maximum of 10.

'LOWER END'

"He got the lower end," said Bonello.

Bonello, who joined the 67's in a trade with the Peterborough Petes last month, has been a client of Frost's since he arrived in the Ontario Hockey League.

He became friends with Danton (then known as Mike Jefferson) before that. Bonello was friends with Kitchener Rangers forward Adam Keefe. Adam is the younger brother of Sheldon Keefe, a former teammate and friend of Danton's and also a client of Frost's.

Bonello's dad passed away when Bonello was 13 and he lived at the Keefes' home for awhile. That's how he got to know Danton.

"Sheldon and Mike were best friends," said Bonello. "We were the little brothers hanging around the older brothers, playing ball hockey."

Bonello's first contact with Frost came when Bonello's dad used to take him to Frost's hockey schools in Brampton.

DISCIPLINED CAMP

"My dad liked the discipline and how hard we worked on the ice," said Bonello. "A lot of hockey schools just take your money and let the kids fool around on the ice."

Frost has been characterized as a cult-like leader for a small group of very dedicated players.

Bonello chuckled when asked about the way his agent has been characterized and said Frost has done nothing but right by him.

"People look at his persona, they look at his history and his coaching. I think it's funny how everybody twists the story one way or the other. They say every player of his doesn't have a relationship with his family. That's totally false. I have a strong relationship with my family," said Bonello.

"Every player (Frost) has helped has become a pretty good player. I don't have any concerns or complaints."

The Danton case served to bring unprecedented focus on Frost and his already well-documented relationships with players as a coach and clients as an agent.

Did 67's coach and general manager Brian Kilrea, known for having little patience or time for most agents, have any reservations about taking on another Frost client?

Kilrea has had Frost clients before -- winger Lance Galbraith was one, he said -- and Kilrea said he likes their approach to the game.

"I just knew (Bonello) was a good player," said Kilrea yesterday. "Go back and look. Lance was with Frost and you just have to look at their success. They come to play and they play hard every game. They play to win.

"I have no second thoughts about it because of what he can do on the ice."

Bonello has been the club's best forward since his arrival. He has five goals and nine points in seven games and leads the team with 31 penalty minutes. He has been dominating in the faceoff circle.

During the 67's recent road trip, Kilrea was asked what he liked about Bonello's game.

"Everything," said Kilrea. "He kills penalties, blocks shots, gives us offence and he's good in his own end. He's feisty and he doesn't like to lose. That's a good attitude."


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