The weird and dependent relationship between imprisoned NHL player Mike Danton and his controversial agent, David Frost, has been easily explained.
Eerie long distance telephone conversations taped in prison by the FBI between Frost and Danton -- who was in jail on charges of hiring a hit man, allegedly to kill Frost -- bring context to this confusing connection.
Transcripts of the prison tapes, obtained by the Toronto Sun in a co-operative effort with CBC's news program, the fifth estate, shed light on the convoluted Frost-Danton story.
The conversations here have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Since these conversations took place, Danton has pleaded guilty to the failed murder-for-hire plot and is serving a 7 1/2-year sentence in Fort Dix, N.J. He is hoping to be transferred to a Canadian prison.
Since these conversations took place, Frost has resigned as a certified agent from the National Hockey League Players' Association.
And since these conversations took place, the fifth estate has aired a one-hour investigation into the strange case and, the day after the program ran,Steve Jefferson, Danton's father, was arrested for criminal harassment of Frost.
What follows are transcribed excerpts from four separate conversations in April 2004 between Danton and the man he allegedly tried to have killed:
1. THE CODE OF PASCAL
In the first of the taped conversations, Frost urges Danton to speak in an unfamiliar code. Frost invokes the name of St. Louis Blues teammate Pascal Rheaume to signify the No. 25 he wore, an apparent reference to the $25,000 Danton allegedly owed Frost. Frost, trying to hide his own identity, refers to himself as the Young Nats coach or Quinte coach rather than by name.
Frost: Okay. I'm going to say some things to you and we're going to talk a little bit.
Danton: I don't know how much time I have.
Frost: Okay, this is important Mike. We're going to be careful Okay. Who's ah, Pascal Rheaume, what number does he wear again? Don't say it. You know?
Frost: When you talked to that girl that worked over at, you know, where teens go when they don't go to their main rink?
Frost: Remember that Young Nat coach you had?
Danton: Umm. (Pause)
Frost: Talk in a code, Mike. Remember that Young Nat coach you had?
Danton: I'm not catching you.
Frost: Okay. Remember who your Young Nats coach was?
Danton: Ah, yeah.
Frost: Quinte coach?
Danton: Yeah, yeah.
Frost: Did you ever mention to that person at all, ah, that name?
Frost: Did you ever use that figure to anybody, what number does Pascal Rheaume wear, keep that in your head?
Frost: Did you ever use that figure to anybody prior to the other person?
Danton: Use that figure?
Frost: Okay, you know right now I won't be mad, right?
Frost: This isn't the time about, this isn't the time to talk about being mad. This is support time.
Danton: The figure that Pascal wears.
Frost: The suggestion was made by our friend and he could be f---ing with me but I need to know the answer to give that to the lawyers, okay? Was anybody else ever contacted prior regarding this?
Frost: C'mon, think hard now.
Danton: We can't be talking in code like this because I'm not catching a lot of things you're saying.
Frost: Okay, Mike, straight out. Did you ever contact anybody else?
Danton: About the number that Pascal wears?
Frost: No, not about the number. Did you ever say, my Young Nat coach, I owe him Pascal. So, I want you to take care of that.
Danton: Can you say that again?
Frost: My Young Nat coach. I owe him Pascal. And I want you to take care of that for me.
Frost: Because I don't want to pay it.
Danton: No. No.
Frost: Was anybody else besides the place where you don't play games ever contacted regarding the same thing?
Danton: Ah, yeah.
Frost: Okay. Are you sure the number Pascal was never ...?
Frost: You're sure?
2. THE PLOT
In this segment of the taped conversations, Frost was asking for details about the first attempt Danton made to contact a hit man, and about a photograph of the agent that Danton allegedly gave a night-club bouncer he hoped would do the job.
Frost: Did you ever give a picture (to the hit man)?
Frost: To that person?
Frost: And did you get it back?
Frost: Okay. Did you remember this at all?
Frost: When were you going to tell me?
Danton: What do you mean?
Frost: I just asked you, did you remember this? You said yeah. I said when were you going to tell me?
Danton: I didn't know I had anything to do with it.
Frost: You do know once something happens they check everything out.
Danton: Right, right.
Frost: God you must have wanted that Nat guy gone, Huh? Huh? Hey.
Frost: Did you?
Frost: Do you?
Frost: How long ago was that prior?
Danton: Like, two months.
3. WHY DO IT?
David Frost has always denied that he was the target of the sloppily attempted hit that landed Danton in jail. But evidence seems overwhelmingly opposed to that view. In this portion of the taped conversations, Frost tries to get Danton to explain why he allegedly wanted him killed.
Frost: Why were you even thinking about it then?
Danton: I don't know.
Frost: Well, you've got to tell me ... Just tell me. It's okay.
Danton: It was everything. Just everything. Everything the same. It was just I didn't know. I was just obviously, everything was kind of coming down at the same time.
Frost: Like what?
Danton: Hockey. You know, fighting.
Frost: What month are we talking?
Danton: January maybe.
Frost: Jesus. What happened then?
Danton: Just hockey was going down and f---ing everything, all the same s---.
Frost: I don't know what you mean.
Danton: Ah c'mon, read into it, man.
Frost: I know but Mike, things were never that bad, right?
Danton: I don't know. I just wanted ...
Frost: You just wanted what?
Danton: I don't know. I just, f---ing, I don't know, I don't know how to say it over here right now.
Frost: Well try.
Danton: I just wanted, f---ing, to do things, you know. And things weren't f---ing good between that person and it was like I felt that there was no other way.
4. MYSTERY GROUPIE
When Mike Danton didn't know where to turn for help, he turned to a teenaged fan named Katie Wolfmeyer. It proved to be his legal undoing. In this taped conversation, Frost asks about the relationship with Wolfmeyer and guides Danton on future legal behaviour.
Frost: She's 18, right
Danton: No, she's 19.
Frost: What she just turned. Then you expressed to her very clearly that this was a hit man coming.
Frost: And ...
Danton: Oh, I wrote some stuff down. I told her that.
Frost: Excuse me, what do you mean?
Danton: And then I called her and just told her that, you know, I had a conversation with her and told her there was a hit man coming for me from my hometown and she asked who and I said I don't know.
Frost: Wait, I got the transcripts right in front of me. I know every word you said to her.
Danton: No, no, you don't because ours wasn't taped. Mine and hers wasn't taped.
Frost: Okay, Okay. Here's what I'm going to say to you. Remember this. It's her word against yours. Okay?
Frost: Because those first calls weren't taped, you have to remember this, do not get sucked in because as long as they weren't. Do know this. She is going to do whatever she can and she's already done it as of today to get out of it.
Frost: The family's ripping you. She's ripping you saying you manipulated her, you're a liar, she knows that you're this and that so f--- her, that's fine. She's going to do whatever she can to get off. What I'm saying to you now is did you have any conversation with her prior to that Wednesday night?
Frost: You're positive.
Danton: Hundred percent.
Frost: Then you have nothing to worry about. Okay, so that makes me feel better. Regarding the Young Nats situation, and that picture, that's really bad. Okay? Now what's happened is they're going to try and paint and illustrate what they want. The main lawyer, not the two clowns that are coming there tomorrow, two people coming tomorrow are important because they know the St. Louis district, they know the judge and the prosecutor.
Frost: This is what's being expressed to me. And you know what? I want you to listen and I don't want you to ever think anything different from what I'm about to tell you. Are you ready?
Frost: It's an absolute impossibility to win this case in the criminal court.
Frost: You'll lose. You'll go 7-10 without question. Okay? That's why, and we know you do need help and there's no question your mental state at the time -- you were not thinking clearly. You were on the medications. And so forth, right. Um, your emotional state, tomorrow when you're talking, you need to stay calm. But you have to feel the truth on how you feel.
Danton: Uh huh.
Frost: I'm not saying you have to cry. Can you call me back because this is very important. We'll talk right until we get off. Um, so, the only way out is through, remember I told you there was a medium spot between pleading insanity.
Danton: Uh huh.
Frost: The spot for severe counselling. It's the only way out. Mike, I'm telling you now, it's going to work because you really do need it.
5. THE OTHER WOMEN
What is clear by the taped conversations: Mike Danton had a large sexual appetite. Exactly what part this played in his relationship with Frost remains unclear. In this excerpt, Frost is asking if anyone on the Blues knew of Danton's extra-curricular activities.
Frost: Any guys on the team know about this kind of stuff?
Danton: What do you mean?
Frost: About how many and this many.
Frost: C'mon Mike, you know that answer.
Danton: Let me look at my sheet.
Frost: Who would it be, R.J.? (Ryan Johnson, his roommate with the St. Louis Blues). Does R.J. know anything?
Danton: I don't think. They don't know like how many girls or anything like that.
Frost: So what do they know?
Frost: Want me to just cut to the s---?
Frost: They're all saying, a lot of them are saying, that you were just like a f---ing dog.
Danton: That's what they said. The FBI broad told me that she asked Mark Rycroft about me and I said 'What'd he say?' and he said I kept to myself and I was shady. That's why I don't like people knowing too much about my business.
Frost: Did you tell the FBI broad anything?
Danton: That's just what I said.
Frost: Mike, what did we tell you?
Danton: Well it doesn't have anything to do with what went on. She said I called Mark Rycroft and I said, 'Why did you do that?' She said, 'We were trying to find him.' I said, 'What'd he say?' He said I was quiet.
Frost: Okay, whatever, whatever, whatever.
Danton: Like that's the thing. These guys thought a whole bunch of things but they never really knew anything. Because I wouldn't tell them everything.
Frost: They suggested you jeopardized stuff on game days and stuff. Did you ever do that?
Frost: F---ing cop bastards lying to me. So you never went to East Sides (St. Louis strip club) on the day of a game?
Danton: F--- no.
Frost: Those guys are f---ing bastards. Okay, how about did you bang a broad the night before the game?
Frost: Are you sure, come on kid?
Danton: Like 99 percent. Going back and thinking, I don't know but I know that I wouldn't. I know there was times when I could have and I didn't.
Frost: How did you pull this off with talking to me all about it?
Danton: I came over late. I made sure they came over late.
Frost: So there's going to be no secrets from guys on the team come popping up here?
Danton: What do you mean?
Frost: Like anything that's negative for you. Like he doesn't care, like he did drugs.
Danton: No, f--- no.
Frost: Don't get mad at me.
Danton: I'm telling you there's no drugs, the only time I drank was in Nashville.
Frost: Okay. That's cool. So no surprises from guys? They just think you're a little messed up with broads.
Frost: Okay. They don't know they just think it.
6. SANE OR INSANE?
What was Mike Danton thinking when he allegedly ordered the murder of David Frost? That remains unclear. In this taped excerpt, Frost all but cross-examines Danton on his thinking of the murder-for-hire.
Frost: I don't give a s--- what you and I got to do after counselling, I don't care how we got to do it, we're doing it. 'Cause we can never have you feeling like this again. Can we?
Frost: Is it fair to say that anybody who thinks the way you've been thinking is sane?
Frost: What's fair to say?
Danton: That it's not.
Frost: It's not what?
Frost: It's not a sane way to think is it?
7. THE GREAT FROST PLAN
Before he was to testify in front of a grand jury in St. Louis, Frost told Danton what Frost was going to say under oath. In the conversation, he also introduces a potential alibi for Danton.
Frost: And I'm not going to lie, the negotiation has gone well so far. So far their prosecutor, the guy in charge of you -- the FBI is not in charge of f--- all, all they do is investigate and give it to the prosecutor -- they have no say. The prosecutor is bringing me in on Wednesday, it's called a subpoena, they're going to subpoena me to St. Louis and make me testify before the grand jury. So I'm going to do that and they're going to say to me: Did you fight with him? And I'm going to say no. What happened between you? And I'm going to say the same things that's happened between him and I for 10 years. What'd you talk about? Talked about the same issues we've always talked about. Was there anything big? Yeah, he had a f---ing nightmare Tuesday night after his goal. I walked into his room and he was drenched. He thought Steve Jefferson was in the room with a gun over his head. Those are the things I'm going to say. They're going to say, yeah, you had some sort of fight with him. And I'm going to say, no I didn't. I had the same thing I've had for 10 years. I had a conversation with him about putting his priorities in order and making sure hockey's first. They're going to try and do what they've been doing the whole thing. They're trying to get me to go south and it's not going to happen and you know it's not. So as long as you understand there's one way and one way only. Okay?
Danton: Uh huh.
8. DO YOU LOVE ME?
The uncomfortable control Frost has held over Danton has been evident but unexplainable for years. In this excerpt, ending one of their long-distance calls from prison, Frost brings some context to that relationship.
Frost: Hey Mike, listen, do I have to worry about my safety anymore?
Danton: No you don't. I gotta go.
Frost: Okay, do you love me?
Danton: (whispers) Yes.
Frost: Say it.
Danton: I love you.
Frost: Do you?