Mike Danton came across as calm, composed and factually challenged — some might even say delusional — in the much-awaited hour-long interview broadcast on Rogers Sporstnet Wednesday that was supposed to tell his side of the story.
Danton told his story of how he went to prison for a muddled murder-for-hire attempt.
He just didn’t tell the story.
He still claims, as he did to the National Parole Board, that his father, Steve Jefferson, and not his agent/mentor David Frost, was the target of the awkward plot that landed him in jail for 51/2 years. He clings to that premise even though there is all kinds of evidence to the contrary.
This is where Nick Kypreos, the hockey player turned interviewer, left too many questions unanswered.
How could his father have been the target of the hit when the hit was supposed to take place at Danton’s apartment in St. Louis? How could that be?
Steve Jefferson never has been to St. Louis, let alone to the apartment of his estranged son.
Jefferson had not spoken to his son since after Sept. 11, 2001. They had not spoken at any time during Danton’s time with the St. Louis Blues.
And how could his father have been the target of the hit when a hit man approached by Danton to perform the crime clearly identified Frost as the target of the hit. The Fifth Estate showed a photo of Frost to the alleged hitman. It was confirmed at that time that Frost was the intended target.
And how could it have been his father as the target of the hit when Frost, in a recorded telephone conversations with Danton, copies of which have since been obtained by Sun Media, clearly implies he was nervous about his own safety, and he was openly questioning Danton about how he feels about him and all but asking: Should I be worried?
That was 51/2 years ago: This is now. A whole lot of therapy and prison time later and you wonder: If Danton couldn’t come clean on the central issue involving his conviction and the loss of his National Hockey League career, how can anything else he says be believed?
“My intended victim was my biological father, Steve Jefferson,” Danton told Kypreos Wednesday night. “It was more of a mental thing with me. I was under the impression that there was a hit man coming from Canada. That’s what my state of mind was. Someone was coming after me to end my life ... My mind told me this was going to happen.”
A hitman coming from Canada? In his apartment? How? Why? His father ... whom he hadn’t seen or spoken to in years? If that’s what Danton chooses to believe, so be it. You tell yourself something long enough it becomes your truth, even if it’s as implausible as all of this. This is his truth now.
“I know the truth,” Danton said. “Everybody involved in the case knows the truth. It’s nothing that’s fabricated.”
Danton then went on to talk about his relationship with Frost, which he described more as father-son than player-agent. He said their relationship wasn’t of a sexual nature, even though there was all kinds of testimony to the contrary in the sexual exploitation trial of Frost, where the former agent was found not guilty. He then contradicted himself in trying to explain his relationship with Frost.
Danton said Frost was the father figure in his life but claimed that in St. Louis he was out of control. “I was a 23-year-old man but in actuality, I was a 12-year-old boy,” Danton said. “Away from his family. Away from his friends. Away from his loved ones. I didn’t know how to deal with it.”
Which begs the question: If Frost was the father figure he claims him to be, and he claims to have been living with him from the age of 14 — again a point of significant dispute — why was he so alone when Frost was everywhere in his life, mentoring him, teaching him, guiding him?
At times last night, it almost seemed as though Frost was telling the story with Danton’s lips moving.
Once again, Danton highlighted his troubled upbringing and spoke of being beaten by his father. His father, Steve, tells a different story. “Dave would call me after a game and say Mike played like crap, you’ve got to give it to him on the way home. And then Dave would say to Mike, I bet your father really gave it to you last night. He was playing both sides against the middle.”
Danton did have an opportunity to have his father charged with abuse. He once spoke with an OPP officer about it. The officer told him he would charge his father, but if Danton was found to be lying, he would be charged. Just after hearing that, Danton left the police station.
“I’m a good guy,” Danton said. “I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want pity. I want a second chance.”
What he needs is a second chance to tell the truth.