Too much baggage

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

The hockey world is not prepared to greet felon Mike Danton with open arms upon his eventual parole from prison.

A reception of doubt and suspicion awaits Danton's apparent attempt to return to professional hockey this autumn at the age of 29.

A number of National Hockey League general managers quizzed yesterday were hesitant to offer anything optimistic about Danton's chances of having a future in pro hockey.

"We would have no interest in signing him," said Lou Lamoriello, general manager of the New Jersey Devils, who once employed Danton.

"It's not something we would consider," said Ken Holland, general manager of the Detroit Red Wings.

"He's not what we'd be looking for," said Doug Risebrough, general manager of the Minnesota Wild.

"I wish him well," said Larry Pleau, general manager of the St. Louis Blues, Danton's former team.

"I like Mike. He played well for us in the role we had him in."

When asked if he would sign Danton if he was available, Pleau said: "I really don't want to answer that."

"I don't think we'd be interested in Mike Danton," said Scott Howson, the general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets. "We wouldn't want the risk."

Not a single general manager asked by Sun Media indicated they would be inclined to give Danton a second-shot at resuming his NHL career, four years after he plead guilty to plotting to kill his agent, David Frost.

Any number of issues await Danton if and when he is cleared for parole.

But first, after being transferred from an American prison on March 19, he must go through the process of any parole applicant. He must be interviewed, assessed by psychologists, and receive Parole Board approval.

"It's not going to be taking place quickly," Carol Sparling of the National Parole Board told Sun Media.

A Corrections Canada spokesperson indicated that "it could be several months" before Danton is out of prison.

In the meantime, hockey people wonder just who this Danton will be.

Any kind of involvement with David Frost will undoubtedly impede Danton's attempts to return to the highest level of pro hockey.

Frost is considered a pariah in most hockey circles.

Danton, a number of general managers indicated, would have to completely divorce himself from his former agent, before they would even consider a tryout.

"It's really going to be up to Danton," Lamoriello said. "He's going to have to show someone how much he wants it. Whether that means going to the Eastern League or wherever to start over.

"But whatever hindered him in the past, people are going to have to be convinced that that's gone."

"I'm all about second chances," said Holland, who brought Darren McCarty back from bankruptcy a year ago. "But the people I've brought back are people I've known.

"I don't know Mike Danton. I only know the story."

Holland did wonder about Danton being off four years and what affect that would have on his skills.

"This is a hard league to play in," Holland said. "And he was a fourth-line guy first time around.

"You look at Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer and Mats Sundin, they each took a half-year off and it's been a challenge for them to get their games back, and they're superstars. What happens to a fourth-line guy who has been off four years?"

Holland described Danton as a "spare part" of a hockey player.

"It's easy to find spare parts," Holland said. "Who wants one that comes with baggage?"

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca


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