NHLPA insists it 'supported' Danton

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Would Mike Danton be in prison today had the National Hockey League Players' Association properly protected his interests by never certifying David Frost as an agent?

Would the former NHL player have found himself the central figure in a clumsy murder-for-hire plot involving Frost had his agent never been certified to be his agent?

These questions linger unanswered -- still being asked by Danton's parents, still being wondered about by those within hockey circles -- while Danton remains behind bars in Fort Dix, N.J., serving a 7 1/2-year sentence while Frost awaits trial on numerous sexual exploitation charges in Ontario.

Other pertinent questions to consider: Had Frost never been certified, would Danton have found it necessary to attempt to arrange the murder of his former coach? Had another agent handled Danton's personal business and been involved more closely would that agent have been strong enough to have seen how unhealthy the relationship between Danton and Frost had been?

MESS

That we'll never know because throughout this entire mess, the PA has shrugged ambivalently to everything that has been David Frost.

In the summer of 2001, Danton's parents provided NHLPA psychologist Dr. Brian Shaw with disturbing photographs taken from Frost's cottage that included one of a young boy naked and bound to a bed with duct tape and another of Frost pointing a rifle at the child.

Dr. Shaw, as obligated by law, turned the matter over to the police. That was before Frost applied for certification.

But one year and three months after Shaw first saw the photographs in his role with the PA, Frost was certified by that very same organization.

ARRESTED

He remained certified even after Danton, a PA member, had been arrested and charged in the United States. He remained certified as Danton pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.

Ian Penny, the NHLPA's associate counsel, explained the unionis position this way in a written statement: '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.'

When recently asked to elaborate on how, in fact, they 'supported' Danton, Penny and the PA refused to answer, claiming their previous statement covered off the situation.

When asked if they could provide specific evidence regarding what they did to support Danton in any way, they again refused to answer.

When asked -- now that Frost compatriot Bob Goodenow no longer is associated with the PA -- if in retrospect, knowing what they know now, would they have certified Frost in the first place, again they refused to answer.

Goodenow, for example, was urged by Chicago Blackhawks president Bill Wirtz to sever ties with Frost in the best interest of both the NHL and the NHLPA. 'On numerous occasions, I asked Bob to temporarily suspend David Frostis certification until after the Ontario Provincial Police had concluded their criminal investigation of him,' Wirtz wrote me in a letter dated Sept. 13.

'Needless to say he did nothing.'

Wirtz also wrote to Goodenowis successor, Ted Saskin, calling the Danton/Frost incident ithe worst event that I have experienced in fifty years associated with the NHL.'

In his letter of Aug. 23 to Saskin, Wirtz wrote: iIn short, I am appalled by the handling of this time bomb.'

And as the PA was 'supporting' Danton, Frost, the apparent target of the messed-up hit, was providing legal and moral support for Danton. The conflicts of interest here appear extreme. The question is who was supporting whom?

There is no evidence, in fact, the PA did anything but cover up for its now former boss and protect its own name in the process, while hanging out to dry one of its troubled members.

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