Teammates surprised by incident

Sunday, April 18, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- A day after St. Louis forward Mike Danton was charged in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme, his Blues teammates were still having trouble fathoming the news.

"It's beyond shock," forward Doug Weight said Saturday as players cleaned out their lockers. "I don't know what to say."

According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Illinois, Danton, 23, and Katie Wolfmeyer, 19, tried to hire someone to kill an acquaintance of the hockey player. Danton was arrested at the airport in San Jose, Calif., after the Blues were knocked out of the playoffs by a loss to San Jose on Thursday.

"It's tough," center Keith Tkachuk told reporters. "I don't know what's going on. You guys probably know more than I do."

Danton and Wolfmeyer face federal charges of conspiring and using a telephone across state lines to set up a murder. According to the criminal complaint, Danton told Wolfmeyer that a hit man from Canada was coming to kill him and asked her if she knew someone who would kill the person for $10,000.

The complaint alleges that Danton was trying to kill a male acquaintance whom he had fought with Tuesday over Danton's "promiscuity and use of alcohol." The complaint said Danton feared the acquaintance, who is not identified, would talk to St. Louis Blues management and ruin Danton's career.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported for Sunday editions that Danton had agreed to extradition, and that he was being moved from a California jail to St. Louis.

"We don't as of yet have all the facts," Danton's agent, Dave Frost, said. "I spoke with Mike. We're fully supportive of him, and we fully intend to be behind him, and with him.

"Unequivocally, I can tell you it had nothing to do with drugs and alcohol, period. Once we get all the facts, we'll be able to realize what really happened. He's a good kid. He really is."

Frost also told the Post-Dispatch for Sunday editions that Danton had asked him a week ago to help set up counseling for him for fears and other emotional problems.

Weight said what Danton does in his personal life is his own business.

"Let's preface it by saying who knows what the situation is," Weight said. "There's rumors of what went on and who exactly was involved with this so-called thing.

"We're worried about his life right now and what he's going through."

"Let's not jump to conclusions, but you know what, hypothetically I think it would be fine. I'd like to think people are bigger than that and look into the person as a person and as a teammate."

Danton, formerly known as Mike Jefferson, was suspended twice for disciplinary reasons by the New Jersey Devils last season before being traded to St. Louis last June. He had seven goals, 12 points and 141 penalty minutes in 68 games this season -- all career highs -- with the Blues.

In one game, although he was at a decided disadvantage, he tried to goad Vancouver tough guy Todd Bertuzzi into a fight.

"I don't know a tougher guy than him, I don't know a guy that goes in the corner and gets killed and that will drop his gloves with a guy who's 40 pounds heavier in a flash," Weight said. "He's tough as nails."

Some teammates were hoping the arrest was just a misunderstanding.

"He brings a great presence to the dressing room, so it's just real tough to see him go through this," defenseman Bryce Salvador said. "I really do feel like he's family. It's unfortunate, because he's a great guy."

Others wanted him to know he was in their thoughts.

"We're worried about his life right now and what he's going through," Weight said. "It's a scary thought.

"I feel for him and I'm praying for him."

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