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By wire services
Published November 9, 2004
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Former Blues player Mike Danton was sentenced Monday to 71/2 years in prison for trying to have his agent killed.
Danton, 24, said nothing as U.S. District Judge William Stiehl imposed the sentence.
"I do not believe in over 18 years on the bench I have been faced with a case as bizarre as this one," Stiehl said, noting that Danton chose a 19-year-old acquaintance and a police dispatcher as his would-be helpers in the murder plot.
The judge said the story Danton "concocted was not well thought out or very believable." He said, "The exact reasons you felt you needed to engage in a murder plot remain a mystery to me."
Danton is expected to ask to be moved to a prison in his native Canada. As for his hockey career, there is no parole in the federal system and, the judge noted, Danton might not be allowed to return to the United States after completing his sentence.
His contract with the Blues expired after the 2003-04 season.
At the sentencing, Danton's attorney, Robert Haar, apologized on behalf of Danton "for the pain and disappointment he has caused" his friends, teammates and fans.Khabibulin going home
Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is returning, as expected, to his native Russia to play during the NHL lockout.
Khabibulin has been negotiating for weeks but finally agreed to terms Monday with Ak Bars Kazan, the same team that signed Lightning centers Brad Richards and Vinny Lecavalier.
"We should have a pretty good team," Lecavalier said last week. "I'm excited all of us are going over there. It should be fun and it will give us a chance to play. I know I miss playing."
All three are believed to have contracts worth $300,000 a month. The Russian league is on break and will start up again Dec. 1. Khabibulin, Richards and Lecavalier are scheduled to report in Kazan by Nov. 23.
Alex Kovalev also signed Monday with Ak Bars Kazan, a team that already includes NHL stars such as Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk, Toronto's Nik Antropov, the Rangers' Darius Kasparaitis, Anaheim's Ruslan Salei, Columbus' Fred Brathwaite and Pittsburgh's Aleksey Morozov.
The team is owned by an oil company and is intent on winning the Russian league in honor of a city celebration of the 1,000-year anniversary of the Republic of Tatarstan.
Khabibulin had an offer from Ak Bars Kazan to play the entire season regardless of the NHL lockout, but the goalie's agent, Jay Grossman, said Khabibulin will return to the Lightning when the lockout ends.
Khabibulin becomes the latest Lightning player to sign with another team during the lockout. Pavel Kubina, Dmitry Afanasenkov, Fredrik Modin, Vinny Prospal and Martin Cibak are playing in Europe, and Martin St. Louis agreed to play for a team in Switzerland and will report this week.
Brad Lukowich is playing minor-league hockey in Texas.
Tim Taylor is considering contract offers from teams in France and Switzerland.
HALL INDUCTION: Ray Bourque, the finest defenseman of his generation, entered the Hall of Fame in Toronto with Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy.
The stellar defenseman combined for nine Stanley Cups and joined the hall with builder Cliff Fletcher and hockey writer Jim Kelley.
Bourque played for 22 seasons and was a five-time Norris Trophy winner. He spent all his career in Boston until he won the Stanley Cup with Colorado in his final season in 2001.
JAGR SWITCHES LEAGUES: Jaromir Jagr is leaving the Czech league to play in Russia during the lockout. The Rangers forward signed with Omsk Avangard of the Russian league early Sunday and is to leave for Russia by the end of the week, the daily newspaper Sport reported.
SERVICE FOR LATVIAN STAR: Predators center Sergei Zholtok was remembered at a funeral in Riga, Latvia, by hundreds of fans, many wearing Latvian national team jerseys with black armbands. Zholtok died last week at 31 in Belarus from heart failure.
[Last modified November 9, 2004, 00:27:24]