To many in the hockey world, former St. Louis Blues forward Mike Danton will be remembered solely for his surreal plan to hire someone to murder his former agent David Frost. Danton eventually spent five years in prison for charges related to that plot and finished his parole sentence in early 2011.
After spending some time getting his hockey career and life back together at St. Mary’s in Halifax, Danton announced that his journey would continue in a Swedish league. He eventually settled in with Swedish Division 1 team IFK Ore, where he became fast friends with players such as Marcus Bengtsson – a player he calls “Vanilla Gorilla.”
In a strange twist, Danton’s time in prison came in handy during a scary on-ice incident that made him an unlikely hero. Danton apparently became certified in a first aid course during his prison time, which gave him the proper knowledge to help Bengtsson survive a lengthy bout of convulsions after he received a late hit during a game.
Here’s an excerpt of Danton’s blog account of the incident, beginning with Danton realizing that his teammate was in a bad condition after taking that late hit. (Note: the full link includes some adult language.)
As I skated over, I caught the last part of Bangan’s face smashing into the ice. It was like a mallet pounding into meat. After a few choice words with the perpetrator, I heard a moan. As I bent down to see if Bangan was okay, that is when he started to convulse.
At first it was his legs, then his arms, then his eyes, then his entire body.
His convulsions went on for what seemed like forever. Emergency help did take forever, as we are 35 minutes from the closest ambulance. There was nothing that we could do but wait and hope for the best. Our crew did a great job though. What must have been 6 or 7 minutes of convulsing all of a sudden stopped. His eyes opened and looked all around. Amongst the people talking Swedish to him I asked him if he was okay. ”Yes,” he replied. I asked him if he was sore or felt pain. ”No,” he said. I asked him if he knew where he was. ”Yes,” he stated. Weird, I thought. Then, I said, ”Manchester United sucks.” And he laughed. The Vanilla Gorilla was back. And it was at that time that I began to cry. I realized how close I was to losing a teammate, a line mate, a friend, and a member of the indigenous population of gorillas.
(Again, you can check out Danton’s full fascinating account of the harrowing but uplifting incident here.)
It’s certainly an unlikely story, but hopefully it’s just part of a redemptive process for the (once?) troubled winger. An NHL comeback is extremely unlikely, but if this story is any indication, Danton could still make a positive impact on the sport – one strangely nicknamed teammate at a time.
(H/T to Sean Leahy.)