The Story of Mike Danton
Mike Danton (left), whose real name was Mike Jefferson, grew up in the Toronto suburb of Brampton. He went on to star for the Quinte Hawks of the Metro Junior Hockey League in 1996-97. The team was coached by David Frost, who would become his agent and alleged svengali. In the years that followed, Danton would become estranged from his parents.
David Frost is a controversial figure who coached a wildly undisciplined Brampton Junior A team that was threatened with suspension in 1993-94. He was accused of hitting one of his players in 1997 and banned from Central A Junior Hockey League arenas after a dispute with the league in 2004. In 2006, he was charged with multiple counts (all dismissed) of sexual exploitation for allegedly hosting alcohol-fueled sex parties involving teenagers.
Danton's father, Steve Jefferson, insisted that David Frost had an undue influence and control over his son. Mike had lived with Frost and his wife during his time in junior hockey and Steve Jefferson later said of Frost that he "stole Michael from us [and has taken] Michael's mind from him."
A scrappy forward, Danton, right, was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the fifth round of the 2000 NHL draft. He played parts of two seasons for the team, appearing in 19 games and scoring two points, before he was traded to St. Louis.
During his only full season in the NHL, Danton appeared in 68 games for the Blues, scoring seven goals and 12 points while racking up 141 penalty minutes. But there were signs of trouble off the ice. "I had a big problem with being alone," he told SI. He hung out in strip clubs, drank a lot, stayed up all night and exhibited signs of mental instability. "I couldn't make decisions. I was a 23-year-old infant who wasn't in the right mind frame to be an adult, much less an NHL player."
In April 2004, Danton was arrested at an airport in San Jose and charged with conspiring to have a man killed, a man who was said to be coming to St. Louis to murder him over money owed. Prosecutors contended that the man in question was David Frost. Danton insisted the man was his father, Steve, and he attempted suicide in Santa Clara (Calif.) County Jail shortly after his arrest. He later reached a plea deal and was sentenced to 90 months in federal prison. The judge said, "In over 18 years on the bench, I have [never] been faced with a case as bizarre as this one."
After serving 65 months in prison, during which time he received intensive therapy, Danton was freed in the fall of 2009. Now 30 years old, he is studying psychology (with a near 4.0 GPA) at St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and playing for the Huskies, the school's hockey team. "I know this is going to sound nuts," he told SI, "but I'm glad I went to prison...because the negative-downward spiral that would have happened would be been 10 times worse. It saved me in a way."