"A huge factor in (SMU coach Trevor) Stienburg’s support for Danton’s request was discussions with his own father. Malcolm Stienburg, an ordained minister, is a former prison chaplain and a senior member of the national parole board.Cochrane's column notes that "more parole hurdles to overcome than earlier expected" has made it unclear whether 29-year-old Danton would suit up for No. 8-ranked Saint Mary's this season. The former St. Louis Blue is still on parole until Jan. 21, 2011 and faces conditions on travelling from province to province. However, the Huskies players were on board (Stienburg: "I was challenged by my players (to accept Danton) for all the right reasons.").
" 'Second chances,' Stienburg said. 'I grew up with them as part of my life. There’s no question it’s the right thing to do. He has paid the price for a mistake he’s admitted was a huge mistake. He’s already been punished for it.' "
— Chris Cochrane
It is a bombshell, full of a lot of moral questions. Personally, one does wonder whether it is best for tragic cases such as Danton and Theo Fleury to come back to a similar environment where their lives spiralled out of control. A clean break seems like a good idea. However, they need some normalcy and hockey is all they know.
There is also the question, which Cochrane addresses, of whether CIS hockey's big tent has room for 29-year-old ex-pros. It is legal if he's at SMU as a full-time student, but is it right?
"The question that will inevitably be debated concerns whether or not Danton should be dressing for a university hockey team?Like Rob Pettapiece says, this blog doesn't take itself so seriously that it has editorial stances. Saint Mary's believes this can work. Stienburg had a benefit of tapping into his dad's parole board experience before taking this on. That's a best stab at being circumspect about an issue which surely will be hot-button if e-migo Greg Wyshynski's Puck Daddy post is an indication:
"My take is that aging former NHL players aren’t what university programs should be seeking. But that’s an argument for another day.
"Set aside those factors and focus on the Danton criminal past — which is why the Danton case draws so much attention — and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be allowed to play university hockey, for SMU or any other school, if he meets the necessary academic requirements."
The 29-year-old Danton is the blank slate. The interview he did with Rogers Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos in November really answered nothing.
While that's all very pious of the coach and his father, there's also no question that the St. Mary's hockey Web site mentions nothing about being a halfway-house-on-skates for wayward former professionals who choose to become Canadian college athletes because they're out of options.
"(SMU athletic director Steve) Sarty told TSN that it's all about forgiveness, and that 'if we say no to Mike Danton, who are we going to say yes to?' We'll assume that he's asked enough boosters, students, parents and members of the community this question to know the answer before inviting Mike Danton onto his college hockey team."
A particular question is how Saint Mary's plans to keep this from being a media circus.
The purely hockey questions are on hold until Danton is cleared. The most recent ex-NHLer to play in CIS, Jared Aulin, averaged more than two points per game (14 goals, 34 points in 16 games) in a half-season with the Calgary Dinos two seasons ago. Aulin, now playing for Syracuse in the AHL, at the time was four years younger and only a year removed from playing in the pros, so that was different.
Paroled ex-NHLer headed to Saint Mary's; It's all about 'second chances,' Huskies coach says (Chris Cochrane, Halifax Chronicle-Herald)