Tapes reveal sticky mess

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Prison telephone calls recorded by the FBI provide strange and confounding evidence of the control player agent David Frost had over the hockey player who now is imprisoned for attempting to have him murdered.

Mike Danton remains behind bars in a U.S. federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J. -- still awaiting transfer to Canada -- and while the story of what put him there has become ever clear, the circumstances of the troubled relationship between Frost and Danton remain as baffling as ever.

The FBI tapes of telephone conversations from prison between Danton and Frost, some of which will be heard on a stirring one-hour investigation tonight on CBC News: the fifth estate, clearly outline Danton's clumsy attempts to have Frost murdered and an even clumsier attempt to cover up the crime.

But the tapes also bring forth new evidence and information that paints Danton as a desperate, imprisoned victim of unlikely circumstance.

Among the evidence discovered by both the tapes and by the CBC investigation:

- Danton's attempt to have Frost killed was not his first try, but his second. He made an earlier effort -- an equally flawed initiation to have Frost eliminated months before he was, in fact, arrested.

- Frost believed his cozy relationship with then-NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow and Danton's questionable emotional state would lead to a lesser sentence than the seven-year plea bargain arrangement the player received. "The guy that I trust the most in this whole thing (Goodenow) is the guy with the most power," Frost said on the phone to Danton.

- Frost told Danton that he was being flown in to St. Louis at government expense to testify before a U.S. grand jury to help the case. "It's kind of cool," Frost said. "They're flying me in to help."

- Danton is portrayed on the tapes as having a voluminous sexual appetite that was a career distraction. When told he could be moved out of prison because of his emotional problems and into counselling sessions, Frost told Danton: "You'll have your own room ... You'll have your own computer. You can go on a porno site. You know what I mean."

"I'm not into pornos," Danton said.

"You didn't need to be. You had pornos going on in your own room," Frost said.

On the phone, Danton explained to Frost how the first attempt to have him killed actually took place.

Danton: "Guy said he could hook me up. Said it would cost 10."

Frost: "He was sucking you in. It costs like 100."

Danton. "He said 10, it was like, okay."

Frost: "Did you not ever think?"

Danton: "I gotta go."

Frost: "How do you feel?"

Danton: "I'm upset."

Frost: "Tell me how you feel right now?"

Danton: "Not very good."

Frost: "Listen, do I have to worry about my safety anymore?"

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In the FBI tapes obtained by the Toronto Sun via CBC News, Frost's telephone conversations with Danton were spoken in a bumbling, almost pathetic code that often confused the former hockey player.

Rather than speak about the $25,000 Danton apparently owed Frost, he would instead make reference to the number 25 that Pascal Rheaume wore with the St. Louis Blues. Instead of referring to himself by name, Frost would refer to himself as the Young Nats coach. Frost coached the Toronto Young Nationals team on which Danton played and Goodenow lent assistance.

Frost: "Remember that Young Nats coach you had?

Danton: "Umm.

Frost: "Talk in code, Mike. Remember the Young Nats coach you had?"

Danton: "I'm not catching you."

Frost: "Okay, remember who your Young Nat coach was?"

Danton: "Yeah."

Frost: "The Quinte coach?"

Danton: "Yeah."

Frost: "Did you ever mention that person at all (to police), the name?"

Danton: "No."

Frost: "Have you ever mentioned to anybody, what number does Pascal wear? Keep that number in your head. Did you ever use that figure to anybody?"

Danton: "Use that figure, no."

Frost: "You know, I won't be mad. This isn't a time to be mad. This is support time, okay? Remember that figure that Pascal wears ... Was anybody else ever told about it? C'mon, think hard now."

Danton: "We can't be talking in code like this because I'm not catching a lot of the things you're saying."

Frost: " ... Did you ever say my Young Nats coach, I owe him Pascal."

In his own round-about way, Danton did attempt to explain why he wanted Frost dead and the $25,000 he owed seemed to have little to do with it.

"It was everything, it was just everything," Danton said on the phone to Frost. "I didn't know.

"Everything was coming down at the same time. Hockey, fighting ... Jesus ... Hockey was going down. Everything. All the same s--- ... Ah c'mon, read into it, man ... I don't know. F---. I just wanted to ..."

"You just wanted to what?" Frost asked.

"I don't know how to say it over here right now ... I just wanted f---ing to do things. And things weren't f---ing good between that person. I felt that there was no other way."

"And you have these feelings still?" Frost asked.

"No," Danton said.

Frost made an attempt to convince Danton that his only way to avoid prison time was to mentally break down. He believed that through Goodenow's influence and the PA psychologist, Dr. Brian Shaw, the matter would be solved without significant time in jail.

"This is critical," Frost said. "Everything is going to be okay but it's got to go this way. I'm going to explain this to you right now. When Doc Shaw comes in from the NHLPA and meets with you, you've got to be good, okay? I talked to Dr. Shaw. I talked to him about your nightmares. I talked to him about your delusions. I talked to him about your paranoia. I talked to him about your girls. He thinks the reason you have girls, so many all the time, is your abandonment from your mom.

"Here's the thing. You have to tell him the truth on why you do that. You have to tell them the truth on why you have to have them stay over ...

"Is it fair to say that anybody who thinks the way you've been thinking is sane?"

"No," Danton said.

Frost: "What's fair to say?"

Danton: "That's it's not."

Frost: "Not what?"

Danton: "Sane."

Frost: "Not a sane way to think, is it?"

Danton: "No."

Frost: "So when you talk to Shaw, make sure you express remorse for the call, but not remorse for the fact you were trying to protect yourself, because you had fears ... The main lawyers say the absolute critical point of this it started in the core of your body, in the core of your head at a very young age. Whatever you've first seen, the beating, the fact she never took you out of the house to the grandparents, the fact that you watched him drunk in arenas, the real truth about this is ... you can get somebody off when you show that it started at a very early age. Okay?

" ... If we go to court you're f---ing done and I mean done. Seven to 10 (years), Mike. Are we clear, there's no fighting this?

"... There's one way only -- and that's psychiatric treatment ... It's being done by our own guy. Shaw comes in, talks to you, you tell him your fears, break down with him, it should be a day where you allow your emotions to flow."

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Bob Goodenow is gone from the NHLPA but David Frost remains an agent certified by the union in spite of a past that includes alleged forgery, assault and banishment from two leagues. The PA has yet to see the fifth estate investigation, which details, among many things Frost's involvement with tying Danton's 13-year-old brother naked to a tree, shooting him with a pellet gun and photographing him.

"David Frost's certified status remains unchanged at this time," said Ian Penny, the NHLPA's associate counsel. "The NHLPA's approach to Mike Danton's legal proceeding and his relationship with David Frost has been guided by our interest in supporting Mike and doing our part to insure that Mike obtains the best possible legal outcomes, both legally and personally."

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