Danton granted full parole

KINGSTON, Ontario -- Former NHL player Mike Danton says his father, not his agent, was the intended victim of a failed murder-for-hire plot that sent him to prison five years ago.

Danton made the admission on Friday, when he was granted full parole by the National Parole Board.

The native of Brampton, Ont., pleaded guilty in 2004 in the United States in a plot that prosecutors said targeted David Frost, Danton's former junior coach who went on to become his mentor and agent.

He was sentenced to 7½ years in prison in the United States and was transferred to a Kingston-area facility in March, when he reached full parole eligibility.

In oral reasons for the decision, the board said while it was a very serious offense, Danton has benefited from therapy and would be a low risk.

Danton spent parts of three seasons playing for the St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils. He hopes to return to playing hockey.

During Friday's hearing, Danton said Frost became the would-be victim through a mix-up.

He explained that after canvassing a St. Louis club he frequented trying to recruit a hit man, he called a girl he had been dating and she put him in touch with someone.

"The agreement was there would be $10,000 paid out to have the person I believed was coming to kill me taken care of," he said.

He said paranoia had gripped him, which he blamed partly on the use of stimulants and sleeping pills, and he believed someone was going to his apartment to murder him.

"Why on earth would you believe that?" board member Michael Crowley asked. "That's like talking about the bogeyman."

"Over the years there were conversations that pointed to someone who would have interest in ending my life and ending [Frost's] life," Danton said, adding he received "verbal confirmation" from a family member.

He told the hit man to kill someone who would be in his apartment over two days, and Crowley noted Frost was there at the time. But Danton said Frost wasn't the person he believed was coming to kill him.

"It's clear that you thought it was your father who would do you harm," Crowley said.

"Right," Danton replied.

Danton said his childhood was dysfunctional and his relationship with his parents, Steve and Sue Jefferson, became so strained that he changed his last name from Jefferson, hasn't talked to his father since he was about 15 and admitted to tearing up and sending back the letters they wrote to him in prison.

When Frost became his coach at age 11, Danton clung to him as a father figure. He said Frost has been unfairly portrayed in court testimony and in the media as a violent, controlling, all-encompassing presence in his players' lives.

Frost was acquitted last year of four counts of sexual exploitation relating to his tenure as coach of the Junior A Quinte Hawks team in eastern Ontario in 1996 and 1997, a team that Danton played for.

Conditions of his release specify that Danton is to have no direct or indirect contact with his father and no face-to-face contact with Frost, unless preapproved by his parole officer.