You're Kidding, Right?
Any news involving Mike Danton usually has a jarring effect. Just the overall weirdness of it all.
Even when he sat down with former NHLer Nick Kypreos on Sportsnet to give his first post-prison interview a few weeks ago, his answers were strange and seemingly cooked up.
Now, St. Mary's University in Halifax has decided to join in the Danton weirdness party.
Right off the top, I have absolutely no problem with Danton attending university and attempting to get an education to improve his life. That's a good thing.
But the fact the Huskies are apparently going to let him play for the varsity hockey team is just so far out there in overall stupidity it, well, has a jarring effect.
The school claims it thought long and hard about this, and that Danton deserves a second chance.
A second chance at what, exactly? A second chance at an education? Sure.
But a second chance at hockey? Sorry, gentlemen, he's on about his ninth chance. He's a PROFESSIONAL hockey player. Surely that should erase eligibility to play university hockey in Canada, shouldn't it? Excuse my ignorance, but doesn't 161 games of pro hockey somehow make a player still able to play in the CIS? Could Chris Chelios play for U of T if he so desired?
He's also 29 years old with a long rap sheet of misdemeanors and on-ice crimes. In junior hockey, he was a one-man wrecking crew, well, except for the times he was surrounded by the rest of David Frost's gang.
Again, let the man go to school. But let him play CIS hockey? What a dreadful decision. Is the school taking any steps to make sure Frost isn't around or involved? Are they making sure Frost can't attend St. Mary's games? Have they asked Danton, an ex-con, for a more thorough explanation of his past than was demanded on Sportsnet? Will he be carefully watched to make sure he's attending classes and actually working towards graduating?
This, of course, is also a comment on the dirty secret of Canadian university hockey. See, the one thing Danton won't feel in St. Mary's is old. The school carefully avoids listing the ages of its hockey players on its website — sensitive issue, you see — but the entire team is made up of second chances, guys who played in the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League but weren't good enough to go any further.
So now they've found a place to keep playing hockey — for another five years.
The oldest player on the team, Marc Rancourt, is 25. Most of the rest of the roster ranges between 22 and 24 years of age, most in second or third year. Every single one is an ex-major junior player, including former OHLers like Cory Tanaka, Tyler Cuthbert, Cody Thornton and Ryan Rorabeck.
This team isn't much younger than the AHL Toronto Marlies, for goodness sakes. It's a semi-pro team masquerading as a university hockey squad.
So the kid who graduates high school on time and would like to attend university at the age of 18 and perhaps play for his school?
No chance. He'd be competing against players five or six years his senior.
Or in Danton's case, seasoned pros a decade older.
To me, this has always been double-dipping of the worst kind. These young men made the choice to go major junior, played 3-5 years, and are now getting another chance to keep playing in university.
So they were better than the kids of their own group, which is fine, but now they're taking away a hockey opportunity from younger players as well.
Now this Danton story. People in Canada like to look down on some of the recruiting practices in NCAA sports, laugh at the notion of the American "student-athlete."
Well check out the St. Mary's hockey team and you tell me if this is what CIS sports is supposed to be all about.
Now, because Danton can help the Huskies win, he's getting a "second chance."
Sorry, that was about six or seven chances ago.
A student? Sure. But having Danton play CIS hockey is nothing short of embarrassing, both to the school and Canadian university sport.