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Former NHLer Mike Danton, shown in a Clinton County booking photograph from May 4, has been granted full parole. (Bill Greenblatt/2004 Getty Images)
Former NHLer Mike Danton, shown in a Clinton County booking photograph from May 4, has been granted full parole. (Bill Greenblatt/2004 Getty Images)

Danton says prison stint saved his life Add to ...

Mike Danton says he was a "ticking time bomb" when he made a deal to have his biological father killed.

In an interview with Nick Kypreos of Rogers Sportsnet, the former NHL player said he entered into a murder-for-hire plot because he believed someone was trying to kill him.

Originally, the target of the plot was thought to be his former agent, David Frost. But Danton said the intended target was his biological father Steve Jefferson.

"I was under the impression there was a hit man coming from Canada. That was my state of mind, I actually believed someone was coming to end my life. I don't know what was really going on in actuality but my mind told me this was going to happen.

"I made a terrible mistake."

Danton, 29, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit murder in 2004 and was sentenced in the United States to 7 1/2 years in jail. He was transferred to a Kingston, Ont., facility in March and received parole in September after more than five years behind bars.

During his hearing before the National Parole Board, Danton said paranoia had gripped him. He was convinced someone was out to kill him and that he made a deal to have that person killed. He said he told the hit man to kill someone who would be in his apartment over two days.

In his plea arrangement he didn't name the intended target of the murder plot, though prosecutors alleged the scheme targeted Frost. It wasn't until his parole hearing that revealed he thought it was his father who was out to do him harm and that he expected his father would be the victim.

He says that he didn't name the intended target earlier because the U.S. authorities were convinced the target was Frost, and he didn't want to jeopardize his chances of a transfer to a Canadian prison.

"The U.S. government, with all the games they play in their justice system, they could have used any reason whatsoever to deny my transfer back to Canada," he said.

Danton said a tough upbringing left him unprepared to deal with the real world, and likened his mental development to that of a 12-year-old at the time of his incarceration.

He said that after spending 5 1/2 years in prison, he feels like he is in control of his life.

"It sucks, but going to prison changed my life, and it saved my life. I grew up there."

Danton said his life started to take a turn for the better in prison when he saw improvements in his mental health, but also talked about contemplating suicide early in his incarceration.

"There were a couple of occasions ... where I actually shredded the towels and made a little noose," he said.

Danton alleged his father physically abused him during his childhood, and that he grew up in squalid conditions.

"Obviously nobody want to go through the daily punishment of getting their ass kicked in," he said.

When Kypreos asked if physical abuse followed hockey games, Danton replied: "It was ridiculous. It didn't matter if you scored goals, if you didn't score goals."

Danton's allegations of abuse have been continuously denied by Jefferson. The father has never been charged with abusing his son and Danton's allegations have not been proven in court.

When Frost became his coach at age 11, Danton clung to him as a role model. At the age of 14, he moved in with Frost. He said he was no longer able to tolerate his home life at that point.

"The squalid conditions of the house. You know, cockroaches, no toilet paper and no soap, no TV, no telephone ... no money, no food, bills not being paid. I couldn't do that anymore," he said.

"I wanted to stand up for myself, but was still too scared to. So I went somewhere else."

Danton had said he has not spoken to Jefferson since he was 15. He severed ties with him further when he changed his surname at the age of 21.

"I just wanted to wipe the slate clean. I didn't want the name 'Jefferson' to be misconstrued with the person I am," he said.

Danton said that his relationship with Frost was not the controlling relationship portrayed in the media, but he admitted that he "100 per cent" relied on Frost too much.

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 of which Danton was a member.

When asked about the charges against Frost, Danton said that his former agent had "poor judgment at times and he made bad decisions."

Among the conditions of his release are that Danton is to have no direct or indirect contact with his father, or any face-to-face contact with Frost, without the approval of his parole officer.

Danton will be under parole supervision until Jan. 21, 2011.

Danton spent parts of three seasons playing for the St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils.

In 87 career NHL games, the 28-year-old had nine goals, five assists and 182 penalty minutes.

He was the Devils' fifth-round pick, 135th overall, in the 2000 NHL entry draft.

Danton said he's working out in hopes of attempting an NHL comeback.

"Claude Lemieux was out of hockey for five years," he said. "He's 15 years older than me. If he can do it why I can't I do it? There's no excuse."

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Kypreos that Danton will have to have a hearing before he could play again, and would be subjected to additional suspension.

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