Monday, January 11, 2010

Mike Danton joins the CIS

Everyone's favourite hitman contractor Mike Danton is supposedly joining [Neate Sager, The CIS Blog] the Saint Mary's Huskies to play Canadian Interuniversity Sport hockey. It's not clear yet [Noah Love, National Post] if he'll be able to play later this season or if he'll have to wait until next year, but he has already enrolled in the university.

Danton during his days with the St. Louis Blues

From a strict on-ice perspective, this is probably a good thing for the Huskies. Regardless of his legal issues and prison time, Danton at one point has the skills to play in the NHL. It may take a while for him to regain that form, and he may never be back at where he was, but he'll probably still be one of the most talented players in the league. Most guys in CIS are former major junior players who couldn't make it to the AHL or the NHL; some of the top CIS talents in recent years (such as UNB's Rob Hennigar) have gone on to pro deals. Danton wasn't much of a scoring threat in the NHL, but he did pretty well with the OHL's Barrie Colts and the AHL's Albany River Rats (curiously enough, that's the same team Hennigar's playing for at the moment). If Danton is able to regain his pre-prison form, he could become a dominant CIS player like Hennigar.

From a league perspective, this is more troubling, though. CIS hockey gets next to no attention in Canada (aside from the occasional well-intentioned but completely off-base column, such as this one penned by The Globe and Mail's Allan Maki last week). Now, it will be in the spotlight not for anything positive, but rather for its acceptance of a convicted felon who once tried to hire a hitman. That goes against every image CIS tries to portray, and that's why I have a feeling this move might get some scrutiny from the upper echelons of CIS.

It would be far easier to downplay those concerns if Danton appeared repentant. People make mistakes, and our society is usually happy to provide them with second chances (see Michael Vick's comeback with the Philadelphia Eagles). The problem, though, is unlike Vick, Danton still isn't admitting to much of anything. As William Houston pointed out after Danton's "interview" with Rogers Sportsnet, he didn't say much about what happened, and what he did say made little to no sense. In Danton's case, the situation obviously isn't all his fault, and a good part of the blame must fall on his agent, David Frost (who's still creepily running his Hockey God Online website). Still, I'd like to see some evidence that Danton has dealt with his issues and is really a changed man before his comeback starts. If he is sincere and has changed, fantastic; everyone deserves a second chance, and it could be great for CIS to be associated with his comeback. At the moment, though, this looks like a potential black eye for CIS hockey, which it surely doesn't need at the moment.

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