Huskies back Danton
Team captain: 'Heís earned a second chance'
By MONTY MOSHER Sports Reporter
Fri. Jan 22 - 4:46 AM

Former NHL player Mike Danton (right) pats Huskies team captain Marc Rancourt on the back after a news conference on Thursday. Since being released from jail in September, Danton has enrolled at Saint Maryís University where he has also joined the hockey team, the Huskies, with hopes to play hockey again. (MIKE DEMBECK / CP)

Former NHL player Mike Danton (left) speaks with Saint Mary's Huskies team member Marc Rancourt during practice on Thursday at Saint Mary's University. (MIKE DEMBECK / CP)


MARC RANCOURT has 200 points as a member of the Saint Maryís Huskies hockey team.

He doesnít really care if Mike Danton ever gets one.

The 25-year-old Rancourt, the captain of the Huskies and a perennial academic all-Canadian, said Thursday that he and his teammates unanimously support Dantonís participation on the team.

Danton, a former NHL player who served prison time in connection with an attempted contract killing in the U.S., made his first public comments Thursday since arriving in Halifax for the second semester. Rancourt, the 2009 CIS player of the year, and his teammates were also not allowed to speak on the matter until Danton was cleared to join the team.

Rancourt, a fifth-year senior from Gloucester, Ont., isnít blind to the controversy.

Danton is 29 and someone who spent more than five years behind bars before his parole last September. Critics say he is hardly a poster-boy for university sport in Canada and that Saint Maryís has left itself open to ridicule if Danton misbehaves or scampers off at the first pro opportunity.

"Certainly there have been some offensive things brought up in the media, but at the end of the day myself and the 24 guys in that dressing room know why we wanted to bring him on," said Rancourt. "It wasnít a hockey thing. This was about the opportunity to give somebody who has paid his debt a second chance. Honestly, there was excitement in that dressing room about that opportunity.

"Hockey is secondary at this point. This is about giving Mike his due cause. Heís earned a second chance and Iím proud to be able to be part of the people who are giving it to him."

When the idea of Dantonís participation was first raised with the team, the players spent more than 90 minutes after a practice debating the topic.

Rancourt talked to Danton on the phone for more than half an hour before he would offer his endorsement.

"I voiced some concerns that some of the others guys had brought up," he said. "Obviously when you are bringing a new player in you have to evaluate how that player is going to affect your dressing room."

Danton told him he was down to his last chance, that he missed hockey and wanted to be part of "something special" again.

"I felt he was sincere in that and I felt the guys in our dressing room would certainly help him along that quest," Rancourt said.

Rancourt gave all the players a day to weigh the situation. They all signed by the deadline.

He said Danton has given his new teammates no reason for doubt.

"Honestly, there have been no issues. Heís been around for a week and heís been great so far."

Saint Maryís head coach Trevor Stienburg said he had some initial reluctance about allowing Danton to play, but his players convinced him of the merits.

"If nobody gives him a chance, heís not going to have a chance," said Stienburg, who has Danton living with him.

He said Danton will play when heís physically ready to contribute.

"Heís got to get in better shape," he said. "Heís very committed to it, but he hasnít done anything in five years.

"We just need to make sure heís ready to go. We just canít throw him in this league. Itís a good fast league and I donít need to have him get hurt Ö by the skating aspect of it."

Stienburg said Danton definitely wonít play tonight at St. F.X. and that itís doubtful, but not out of the question, that heíll play Saturday at home against Dalhousie.
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