Penguin to publish Jefferson/Danton story
Toronto — January 31, 2011 — Penguin Canada will publish The Lost Dream: How NHL Ambition Destroyed One Canadian Family by veteran sports reporter Steve Simmons in fall 2011. The book is written in co-operation with Mike Danton's family (Steve, Sue and Tom Jefferson), who want their story publicly told.
As widely reported by the press this month, former NHL winger Mike Danton (formerly Jefferson) is making a bid to return to the NHL more than 5 years after his conviction of conspiracy to commit murder in the United States. Conditions related to Danton's parole were lifted on January 21. He played with the New Jersey Devils and the St. Louis Blues before pleading guilty to conspiracy to murder his former agent David Frost. Following his release from prison in 2009, he returned to Canada where he is currently enrolled at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, and plays on the Huskies hockey team.
In 1999, author Steve Simmons wrote a two-page expose for the Toronto Sun on the curious and troubling relationship between David Frost and four junior hockey players in Ontario. At the time, Steve Jefferson, Mike Danton's father, told him: "Dave Frost is the best thing to ever happen to my kid."
In 2004, Simmons' original exposé all but forgotten, the public learned that Mike Jefferson, a National Hockey League player with the St. Louis Blues, estranged from his father and his family and now calling himself Mike Danton, had been charged and eventually convicted in a clumsy murder-for-hire plot that targeted his agent, coach and mentor David Frost. It was front page news all over North America.
The only background most could find on the sensational story was Simmons 1999 article, which interviewed Frost at length and captured the attention of CBC's The Fifth Estate. The Fifth Estate went on to produce two one-hour programs Rogue Agent and Frost Bite, broadcast in 2005 and 2006. Steve Simmons consulted and appeared in both documentaries.
In 2008, David Frost stood trial in Napanee, Ontario for multiple charges of sexual exploitation. He was found not guilty of all charges and disappeared from public life.
The story of the Jefferson family has not been told. All Steve Jefferson wanted was for his son to play in the National Hockey League. The goal was attained, but at a human cost to his family beyond anything imaginable. Mike Danton made it big for a fleeting moment - and then went to prison.
Over the past year, Steve Simmons has sat down in taped conversations with the Jefferson family, each telling the story from their own perspective, as well as dozens of interviews with others who shed light on this horrific story.
Simmons talks to Steve, Sue and Tom Jefferson about Mike Danton's upbringing, his public charges of abuse against the family and his relationship with David Frost. The book chronicles the OPP investigations, Steve Jefferson's arrest for harassing Frost, and details of the revealing and disturbing case in Napanee. The Jefferson family reveals who they believe let them down and how, and Simmons asks the questions: What happened in their home? How did they allow it to happen? How much were they party to it?
The Jefferson side of this controversial story, the human side, the how-it-happened side, is a sad, cautionary tale of a shattered family. They want it told honestly and anecdotally, with the perspective of having lived through some horrific events and the hope that no one will have to live through it again.
As outlined by the author, this is the story of mom too depressed to get out of bed and unable to find the strength to watch her son interviewed on television. It's the story of a younger brother who idolized Mike Danton and was allegedly abused (initiated) by Frost and friends at the age of 13. It's the story of a family who wanted to live the Canadian Dream but found itself let down by the hockey community, the police, the courts, and the justice system.
This is also a Canadian story about a family blindly pursuing the dream of the NHL without care for the ramifications. The Jeffersons admit they are not, were not, the perfect family. They were consumed by the dream, Steve Jefferson has said, and ignored too much of what in retrospect, were obvious signs that something was desperately wrong.
For the public, The Lost Dream is a glimpse inside the life of a Canadian family well known for all the wrong reasons, and a cautionary tale for every family of ambition and not necessarily sound judgment.
"Of all the stories I have worked on in 30 years covering sports in Canada, nothing has received the kind of attention from readers that the stories about Danton/Frost/Jefferson have," says Steve Simmons. "This story hits a nerve with people." Penguin will publish in October.
About the Author
Steve Simmons covered the Danton/Frost story at length for the Toronto Sun from 1999 to 2004, and worked with the CBC on the two documentaries that aired in 2005 and 2006, revealing the enormous influence Frost held over Danton, and delving into the estranged relationship between Danton and his parents.
He is one of Canada's best known and most provocative sports columnists. His column appears regularly in the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Winnipeg Sun, Edmonton Sun, Calgary Sun, London Free Press and a host of Canadian dailies.
He is a nine-time winner of the Edward Dunlop of Award of Excellence for Sports Writing, Simmons has been voted Favourite Sports Writer in Toronto Sun Readers' Choice Awards 16 of the past 17 years. He is a contributor to The Official NHL History; Alberta On Ice; The Golden Jet; All Work and All Play; Trent Frayne's All-Stars; and The Way It Looks From Here. He is the co-author of On Fire: The Dramatic Rise of the Calgary Flames and author of Lanny, a national bestseller.
He appears on television every Sunday morning on TSN The Reporters with Dave Hodge.