Last night Sportsnet aired a brand new interview with former St. Louis Blues forward Mike Danton. The hour long piece featured Danton in a no questions barred interview by Nick Kypreos. It was interesting, awkward and confusing all at once, but I recommend watching it if you get the chance.
I don’t want to get into what I think of the Danton/attempted murder story. Frankly I just don’t understand the story enough to write about it. There are so many inconsistencies with what David Frost, Mike Danton and filed reports say. Instead, I want to talk about is Danton’s desire to get back into the NHL.
It’s been more than five years since Danton last played in the NHL. Danton was traded from the New Jersey Devils to the St. Louis Blues in 2003 where he enjoyed a decent season with the club prior to his arrest and subsequent incarceration. During his interview with Kypreos, Danton expressed he is still capable of playing at an elite level. Danton insisted he could return to the NHL if Claude Lemieux could. This is where my problem lies.
Why do all comeback stories start with “if Claude Lemieux can do it…”?
It’s getting a bit old. First Theoren Fleury uses the line, then Danton… who’s next?
Lemieux’s comeback with the San Jose Sharks last season was anything but spectacular. It was mediocre to say the least. Here’s his stats:
18 games played, 1 assist, -5 plus/minus rating and 21 penalty minutes
Oh, he played one playoff game, too. But no results whatsoever. Sharks/Lemieux fans will be quick to point out Lemieux played on the 4th line and was used sparingly last season. There’s a good reason for that too.
Going back to Danton (the same argument can be made for Fleury too), why compare yourself to a player who saw 4th line minutes and made zero impact on the NHL’s strongest regular season team?
I’m all for a great comeback story. And if Mike Danton can find his way back into the NHL, great. But I don’t think he is doing himself any favors by pointing at the failure of Claude Lemieux last season.
As far as Danton’s return to the NHL… I don’t see it happening.
I have my doubts whether Danton can climb back to the NHL after such a long time away from it. He’s only 29, but he’s five years worth of steps behind other younger and better players. The game has gotten faster and he’s lost a step or two. It’s a double whammy for Danton. NHL players usually hit their stride by their mid 20s. Look at players like Ryan Kesler or Rick Nash – two very different players, but ones who’ve developed nicely with good structure and year over year improvements. By missing the majority of his key development time, can Danton really get back to the best hockey league in the world and make a decent impact? I really don’t think so.
And I haven’t even mentioned the (potential) negative impact his presence could have on an NHL team or the PR nightmare Mike Danton would bring.
Stay classy, Mike Danton.