His five star players, four still in the hockey business, haven’t turned on him yet
As bad as
things may seem for David Frost, life could be a whole lot worse. He should be dead, don’t forget. If St. Louis Blues forward Mike Danton—Frost’s client and surrogate son— had hired a bona fide hit man instead of police dispatcher, the infamous agent wouldn’t be facing 12 counts of sexual exploitation and one count of assault. He would be in the ground.
Instead, hockey’s reigning bogeyman will be back in court Sept. 19, his second appearance since being charged last month. Police are revealing little about their case, saying only that the unspecified offences occurred between 1995 and 2001 in the southeastern Ontario towns of Napanee and Deseronto, and that the victims—four boys and three girls—were between 14 and 16 at the time. What is clear is that the bulk of the two-year investigation revolves around what happened inside Room 22 of Deseronto’s Bay View Inn. After the FBI arrested Danton in April 2004, rumours began to swirl about the girls and the parties and the used condoms scattered all over the suite. It was 1996, and Frost, then an outcast coach from Toronto, had brought five of his star players from Brampton to play for the upstart Quinte Hawks—Sheldon Keefe and Shawn Cation, both 16; Larry Barron, 20; Darryl Tiveron, 21; and 16-year-old Mike Jefferson (he would later change his name to Danton after disowning his parents).
Frost was a winner, transforming the smalltown Hawks into a nearly unbeatable force, but the coach’s aggressive style did not sit well with everybody. More than once, locals complained to police about his violent outbursts in the locker room and his cult-like
hold over the boys from Brampton. They hung on his every word.
Ten years later, the five players who followed Frost to Deseronto remain loyal to their mentor/agent—and to each other. Though police are not saying, it is hard to imagine that any of the Brampton boys provided detectives with first-hand accounts of what really went on in that motel room. Danton, now serving a 71/2-year sentence for trying to murder Frost, has since proclaimed his undying love and affection for his one-time target, calling him his “father.” Keefe, who enjoyed a brief stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning, is now the majority owner and head coach of the Pembroke Lumber Kings, a tier II junior hockey team down the road from Ottawa. “Every time I say something positive, it finds a way to get spun the other way, so I’d rather not say anything,” Keefe told Maclean’s. “I certainly support [Frost], but I’m keeping myself busy here and concentrating on my own things. And if
you want to print that, then go ahead and print that.” Keefe is not the only Frost ally linked to the Lumber Kings. Larry Barron, who runs a hockey school in California, is listed as a minority owner, and last month, the team hired Shawn Cation as an assistant coach. “Things will get settled out between Dave and whatever issues he’s got,” said Barron, politely declining to answer any questions. “It’s very frustrating, and unfortunately it’s a situation that is weighing over my head. Sometimes it’s unfair, especially in the business that I’m in. My living is teaching kids. I’ve been doing this for a number of years with no problems, and this is the last thing I need.” Darryl Tiveron is also a minor hockey coach in California. Neither he nor Cation returned phone calls from Maclean’s.
About the only Frost supporter willing to talk is Kevin Abrams. Now the commissioner of the Central Junior A Hockey League, which includes the Lumber Kings, Abrams was the general manager of that 1996 Quinte Hawks team. Not a single person, he said, ever approached him with concerns about Frost, his coaching methods or the goings-on in Room 22. “I take things somewhat with a grain of salt, and I really believe that people are presumed innocent,” he said. “This whole thing is concerning and disturbing, obviously, but I find the timing of it somewhat curious.” He points out that Frost’s alleged victims came forward only after the murder-for-hire plot landed on the front page. “Here is what frightens me about it all,” Abrams added. “Because it has been so overexposed in the media, does someone read the story often enough that it becomes a part of what they actually remember? Instead of actually recalling the event, are you recalling what you read in the Ottawa Citizen three years ago?” If the case makes it to trial, defence lawyers will no doubt ask the very same question. But it is David Frost—and those closest to him—who have the most answering to do. M
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