Well the summer can be a quiet time for all hockey fans – but fortunately the EIHL off-season signings have been heating up to keep us informed! The Coventry Blaze have welcomed former NHL player Mike Danton to the fold. Blaze fans should be very excited heading into next season – Danton is a skilled guy, who also brings some serious compete level with him to the UK.
Murph was fortunate enough to chat with Danton recently about his hopes for 2012/2013, and of course his excitement for a new hockey chapter on this side of the pond.
Murph On Ice – Thanks for taking the time to join me on the website Dants!
Mike Danton – No problem Murph, anytime pal.
Murph – With the season on the horizon, how excited are you to get to Coventry and get down to the joy of playing hockey?
Dants - The most relaxing, but worst time of the year, for a hockey player is the off-season. Our bodies need rest, but we miss the competitiveness of the game. I wish I could leave for Coventry today as I am super excited about the upcoming season. I haven’t been this excited about a season since my year in St. Louis. I know we have a lot of competitors in our dressing room so far, and the commitment to winning is infectious throughout the organization.
Murph – There’s been a lot of excitement and anticipation in Coventry since you signed with the Blaze – what can fans there expect from Mike Danton once you hit the ice for your new club?
Dants - I have noticed the excitement and buzz in Coventry this off-season. Thommo has done a great job in recruiting and the fans are anxiously awaiting for the start of the season. With regards to myself, the fans in Coventry can expect a lot of energy and passion. I have always been a gritty player that plays his best when physicality is an element of my game. Therefore, I will play a very physical, in-your-face style yet I will also use my speed to create scoring opportunities. I will be relied on to put up points, but feistiness will definitely be a large part of my game.
Murph – You have some great chirping going on twitter with the Giants’ Adam Keefe – are you looking forward to battling against him this season, and creating some more rivalries in the league as well?
Dants – Keefer and I are good friends. I’ve known him since he was 3 or 4 years old. His brother and I used to beat him up all the time, and maybe that’s why he’s so tough now. However, I had nothing to do with his skating, haha. Seriously though, he’s a great, loyal friend that I would do anything for, but that all changes on the ice. He thinks the same way, so I’m sure we will have some good battles. I believe our team is going to be very hard to play against. Therefore, I think the rivalries, especially in the Southern Conference, are going to be very heated. It is going to be a great season in the EIHL.
Murph – Obviously you have played at some different levels in hockey over the years – what are you expecting from the Elite League as far as the level of play – and what are your personal goals for the upcoming season?
Dants – I have heard good things about the EIHL. The quality of play with the local Brits is of good standard, and the imports that have been signing in the EIHL this year have been of very good quality. I expect the league to be very competitive this season. Personally, I would like to win a championship. That is all that I want. Points are great. Fights are fantastic. However, it all means nothing if we don’t win the title at the end of the season. That is our goal as a team, and therefore my personal goal.
Murph – Everyone deserves a second chance – and the hockey community is truly a family no matter where the game is played – so after all you’ve been through in the past, what are you most looking forward to as you add another chapter to your hockey story here in the UK?
Dants – True statement: everyone has a past and everyone deserves second chances. I have been very fortunate to have extremely supportive people since my release, in Halifax, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. I would hope for some of the same in the UK, but also understand that there will be the odd wanker from time to time. I’m looking forward to experiencing another hockey culture that seems extremely passionate. I love the time spent with the boys in the dressing room, on the bus travelling, and on the ice. I’ve been on the other side of hockey when it gets taken away from you and no longer an option … the aspect I missed the most was being with the boys. Nothing beats that.
Murph – You’ve won championships in the past in your career – how important would it be for you to add some hardware to the trophy case over here for the Blaze?
Dants – Yes, I have won championships in the past. However, that is in the past. Hockey players are regarded for their current state in their career. Last year I didn’t win anything. I want to change that this season. Of course, I would love to add another piece of hardware to my resume. That is my intention, and I know all the boys on the team feel the same way.
Murph - Paul Thompson is a great hockey man who knows the game like the back of his hand. Was having someone of his pedigree behind the bench a big factor for you signing on with Coventry?
Dants – Definitely. I spoke to Keefer about prospective places to play this season. He told me about Thommo’s abilities as a coach. I did some research on my own, and after speaking with Thommo, I made the decision that Coventry was my best fit. His knowledge, commitment, and dedication to winning is infectious. That is a huge part of a team. If players see that the coach is extremely dedicated to winning the players will buy in. The players know that Thommo knows the game and they will respect his decisions. That is key.
Murph – And Finally Dants, what teams do you see as the biggest obstacles for the Blaze, as you try and get the team back to the top?
Dants – Well, from my limited knowledge of the league, I can see that the Southern Conference is going to be very competitive. Some teams have not added that many players yet, but you cannot let that hinder your judgement about their level of play. From what I see, we are on par with all of the teams in our conference. I think a lot of the games will come down to a willingness to win and who wants to do the little things. I’m confident that the Blaze will come through on a nightly basis doing all the little things correct.
Murph – Cheers for the time Dants, I’ll see you in Coventry for the home opener!
Dants – Thanks again, Murph. See you soon.
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