Cloutier: Danton was on Stingrays' signing radar
HULL Stingrays' coach Sylvain Cloutier today revealed he contemplated signing reformed jail-bird Mike Danton last season.
Danton served five years in the USA after admitting conspiracy to commit murder in 2004.
At his trial, the Canadian's target was alleged to be his agent, only for it to be claimed later it was his estranged father.
Since being released on parole in 2009, Danton, now 31, has turned his life around.
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The former NHLer has worked with charities, studied at university and saved the life of a team-mate in Sweden last year.
However, his hopes of ever playing for Saturday's opponents Coventry appear to have been dashed, having had his visa appeal turned down this week.
Cloutier said: "Mike and I exchanged e-mails last January. We looked into signing him, but it didn't work out.
"I talked to a few people, but at the time I got the impression he wouldn't be granted a visa."
And Cloutier insists Danton – despite his controversial background – would have been an excellent signing for the Elite League.
He bases that view on first-hand knowledge gained as team-mates at the American Hockey League's Albany River Rats over a decade ago.
"I got to play with Mike for two seasons in Albany, he was a room-mate," said Cloutier.
"From my experience with Mike he was a really nice guy and a great team-mate.
"He'd have been a good player to have in our league, but it doesn't look as though it's going to happen."
Danton's on-off signing has generated hundreds of comments on fans' message-boards, with most outside the Coventry fanbase believing the UK Border Agency has so far taken the correct stance.
Cloutier, though, said: "Mike paid for what he did. I'm not condoning in any way what he did, but I thought he deserves a second chance, everyone makes mistakes but he's changed his life around.
"No-one knows the full story, though, so it's easy for us all to judge him from the outside."
Rapid Solicitors Stingrays warmed up for Saturday's clash in Coventry with a 6-3 defeat against Sheffield at Hull Arena last night.
Jereme Tendler gave Stingrays the perfect start after just 21 seconds.
Steven Goertzen netted a 14th-minute level, but Cale Tanaka's powerplay goal three minutes later gave Stingrays a 2-1 lead at the first break.
However, three goals in six minutes from Colin Shields, Jon Phillips and Tylor Michel turned the game in the visitors' favour.
Jeff Legue added Steelers' fifth to leave Stingrays with an uphill battle in the third period. Dominic Osman scored with 12 minutes to go, but Michel added Steelers' sixth in the final minute.
Cloutier said: "It was disappointing to lose, but we've got to re-group and go to Coventry and try to steal the points."