Hockey: SMU athletic director Sarty discusses Danton on Prime Time Sports

Saint Mary's athletic director Steve Sarty discussed ex-NHLer Mike Danton joining the Huskies on the FAN 590's Prime Time Sports on Tuesday night.

Danton has been cleared to move to Halifax and attend university, although he will not join the hockey team right away.

The full audio is available — it was a brief 3 1/2-minute interview and some of the questions were elemental — but here are some highlights:
  • Was this a difficult decision? "It was an easy decision to make as far as a human being standpoint ... Mike meets all the requirements to enter the university and we have no position to say no to anyone if they meet the requirements. He certainly is a person who's gifted with great hockey ability so he's going to have an opportunity to try out for the hockey club as well. Once we realized that the people at Saint Mary's University were behind this decision, it was a pretty easy decision to make."

    Are there restrictions regarding David Frost? "He (Danton) no longer has a relationship in that manner, so he's coming here to get himself moving forward in the right direction, namely as a student and secondarily as a hockey player."

  • How much eligibility does he have? "He has two years for sure to play hockey."

  • Does he have to regain amateur status? "The way the eligibility works, for every year he plays pro it eats one year of eligibility and he then has to sit out an equivalent year, so he doesn't have to reclaim any status."

  • What has the reaction been? "It's been largely positive. There certainly have been a few people who have seen the negative side of things. It's sort of what I thought it would be. Initial reactions from a lot of people have been very, very positive. Some people have initially been negative, but once they actually think about it — this person deserves a second shot, a second chance and why should we not as human beings be forgiving, believe in the justice system? He made his mistake. He's paid his price. He's now trying to move on. I'm proud of Saint Mary's University for having a role in Mike Danton's progress and I think ... I'm happy to look myself in the face and know we made the right decision."

  • Are there any special restrictions on Danton? "From the university standpoint, he will be treated like a normal student-athlete."
You can bet the highers-up at CIS HQ are tracking reaction from across the country. Macleans had an item on Tuesday: "... surely the Canadian Interuniversity Sport might want to rethink eligibility rules that allow a guy with the equivalent of a full pro season under his belt to suit up against its players — most of whom competed no higher than major junior." Andrew Bucholtz called it "troubling" Saint Mary's and CIS hockey "will be in the spotlight not for anything positive, but rather for its acceptance of a convicted felon who once tried to hire a hitman. That goes against every image CIS tries to portray, and that's why I have a feeling this move might get some scrutiny from the upper echelons of CIS."

Whether you like it might pale next the laws of this country. A rule no one with a criminal record can belong to a CIS team would be a legal sinkhole. On the experience question, Jared Aulin had actually played more NHL and AHL games (224) at the time he joined Calgary in 2007-08 than Danton has (161), although given the latter's circumstances, that may be kind of irrelevant.

Correctional officials clear Danton to move to Halifax
(Glenn Macdonald, Halifax Chronicle-Herald)
Steve Sarty; Athletic Director from Saint Mary's With Bob McCown & John Shannon (FAN 590)
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  1. I was under the impression that if you play professionally you lose all eligibility at the university level.
    At least thats the rules in football.

  2. CIS hockey has their own unique rules. Hey, CIS woemn's volleyball pretends professional v-ball doesn't exist: you can play CIS v-ball, take a year off and play pro in Europe, come back the next year to your CIS team and not lose any eligibility. Or you can play pro in Europe for several years, come to a CIS school and win female athlete of the year ...

  3. As Dave said, the rules are different for Hockey. You can play pro without penalty until you are 21. The rule allows over-age CHL players the chance to play ECHL/AHL for a season (or half a season) and still take advantage of their Major Junior Education package.

    So, for players who have pro asperations, they can get a taste of pro without risking their education package.

    In Mike's case, he played three years after 21 (a suspended season with Albany and two with St. Louis) leaving 2 (this year and next).

    The solution wasn't intended to allow NHL players to play CIS, but there will always be chances that it could happen (albiet they don't get paid which is why most believe it is not their intended plan to play CIS).

  4. I think the Aulin example is very apt.

    Last I checked, once someone has served their time, their debt to society has been repayed.

    Shouldn't we be encouraging ex-convicts to pursue education, including the full complement of extra-curricular activities?

    Bucholtz's point is ridiculous. For one, CIS doesn't try to portray any image since its marketing abilities are pretty well non-existent. Its best hope is the "any publicity is good publicity" mantra.

  5. Tyler

    You hit the nail on the head. Someone over at our website left a very similiar message. CIS has next to no marketing ability.

    I hope the Danton thing turns out to be a boon for the CIS. It fell in their lap, now lets see if they can use it to their advantage.

  6. I tell you, they should be at the CBC's door asking to get CIS sports onto their new amateur sports digital channel. That'd be yet another huge missed opportunity otherwise.