Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


A life lost to hockey dreams

Here’s a little story for you. I’m not sure whether to tell you
that it’s more eerie or more tragic; it’s got elements of both.
Just researching it has felt like watching some sort of David
Lynch-ian movie about a Canadian boyhood dream gone wrong. The
facts are mostly confirmed at this point, though there is certainly
a trial to come that should further clear up the creepy

When Ontario-native Michael Jefferson was just 11 years old, he
was already a promising hockey player. His father, Stephen
Jefferson, was one of that disturbing breed of fathers whose first
concerns are always the money that their sons can make them, so,
naturally, he started looking for ways to exploit Mike’s talent as
early as possible.

With the future in mind, Stephen introduced his son to a man
named David Frost. Frost was something of an oddball, though a
potentially useful one for the Jefferson family. He specialized in
taking young, talented hockey players and turning them into
professionals, through a combination of coaching, advising,
agenting and financing.


Some say Frost did more than that.

The Toronto Star quoted John Gardner, an official in the GTHL,
last week, saying that Frost “practiced mind control” over his

Regardless of that unsubstantiatable claim, Frost did what he
was recruited to do. He turned Jefferson from a prospect into a
professional. By the time he was 20 years old, Mike had five
seasons of semi-professional junior play in the Ontario Hockey
League behind him. In the final of these seasons, Mike racked up 34
goals and 87 points in just 58 games.

But signs of trouble were starting to amass as quickly as Mike’s
penalty minutes (he spent 203 minutes in the box that season —
nearly two penalties per game). Family life at the Jefferson house
was nonexistent at best. Frost made his residence nearby and Mike
would frequently escape to the comfort of his company.

Jefferson wasn’t the only troubled young hockey player finding
solace in Frost’s companionship. Sheldon Keefe, Ryan Barnes and
Shelton Cation — three of Jefferson’s teammates on the Toronto St.
Michael’s Majors — also had relationships with Frost that were
turning concerned heads.

In October of 1998 the St. Michael’s Majors, Jefferson’s team at
the time, launched an investigation due to increasing disquiet over
revelations about Frost’s past (he had been accused of beating up a
player he coached some years before). The probe was dropped when
nothing substantial surfaced, but the team remained concerned and,
later that season, shed its conscience of the four players, trading
them all to the Barrie Colts.

In 1999 Frost spoke with the Toronto Sun about the incident. “I
didn’t come into this business to make friends,” Frost said. “I’ve
heard the brainwash stuff, that I brainwash players. You know how
crazy that is? If I was that smart, I would brainwash 20 of them
and we would go win the Stanley Cup.”

“[I’m] an intimidating person,” he added. “I don’t care who I
rub the wrong way. I’m not about to change. Not for anybody.”

With Frost’s denial and with the St. Michael’s Majors’
investigation coming up short on evidence, life moved on for
Jefferson. An impressive pair of seasons for Barrie gave most
people in hockey circles reasons enough to forget the name of David
Frost. The New Jersey Devils certainly weren’t thinking about him
when they drafted Jefferson in the fifth round of the 2000 NHL
entry draft.

Jefferson was sent to the Devils’ springboard minor-league club
in Albany, where he put up 19 goals and 34 points in 69 games. Mike
continued to play with a disregard for the rules, spending 195
minutes in the penalty box, but impressed enough to join the Devils
late in the season.

All the while, the Jefferson family situation became more and
more strained. When Stephen had hired him to serve as a mentor for
Mike, he hadn’t anticipated that Frost would come to serve as a
surrogate father for his resentful son.

By the time he made it to the Devils, such a rift had been
created between Mike and Stephen that Mike refused to wear his
family name on his jersey. He legally changed his name to Mike
Danton in an attempt to cut all ties with his father.

But running away from his surname didn’t mean Danton left his
problems behind. His relationship with Frost continued on bizarrely
and his play on the ice became no less violent. In two seasons with
the Devils, Danton was suspended twice by the team for behavioral
problems and racked up 41 penalty minutes in just 19 games.

At 23, Danton found himself on the St. Louis Blues, where he
finally had a chance to prove himself. He scored seven goals and
assisted on five more in 68 games — not great by any stretch of
the imagination, but solid for a fourth-line bruiser.

And then, as would have been predicted had anyone spent the time
to get to know the man, Danton fell apart. Or rather, Frost decided
to tear Danton apart.

This part of the story is a bit thin on details, but stretches
leagues in its tragic depth. Through some sequence of events Frost
and Danton suffered a falling out. It appears that Danton wanted to
leave his relationship with his mentor behind, but was unable to do
so. There may be elements of blackmail involved — it has been
reported by the FBI that Frost threatened to tell the Blues of
Danton’s “promiscuity and use of alcohol.”

Through a female acquaintance of his, Katie Wolfmeyer, Danton
tried to hire a man for $10,000 to murder his former mentor. He was
caught and is now sitting in a cell awaiting trial.

Ryan O’Keefe, a former teammate of Danton’s, described him to
the press: “He never [went] out to the bars. [I] never saw him with
anyone outside hockey. I’ve known [him] since I was a kid, and
basically his whole life revolves around hockey.”

Unfortunately, after a lifetime of being conditioned to believe
that hockey is life, Danton will now lose even that.

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