We need to talk about Tony DeAngelo (again).
I know, I know we’ve all collectively moved on from what happened almost two weeks ago. His name was in every single hockey headline for days. But we got no follow-up. I was wondering what happened, so I did a quick Google search and was…disgusted by what I found.
In terms of the circumstance behind DeAngelo winding up on the waiver wire, the cited incident was this: after an OT loss to the Penguins, DeAngelo and goaltender Georgiev got into an altercation in the tunnel. DeAngelo had made a comment, to which Georgiev responded with a punch with his blocker before K’Andre Miller broke it up. Everyone involved is pretty tight-lipped about what was actually said, but looking further back into DeAngelo’s past, I can only imagine what it was. If this was the first that anyone was hearing his name come up, maybe I could believe it was just the proverbial wires crossing. But it isn’t, and that’s what is so concerning about DeAngelo.
7 years ago today, when DeAngelo was in the OHL, he was suspended for 8 games for making a comment to a teammate. That comment violated the Harassment and Abuse/Diversity Policies, a policy meant to keep racism, homophobia, and all other kinds of intolerance out of the game of hockey. Though no one has ever come out and definitively said what the comment was, it is strongly suggested to have been racist.
The thing is, that wasn’t even his first time violating the Abuse/Diversity Policy while in the OHL. It was his second time. According to the Observer’s article, the coaching staff was “in constant communication” with DeAngelo. One would think that that much attention given to a player who clearly needed guidance would have helped. It clearly did not, and those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Later that year, he was suspended a 3rd time, this time for the abuse of an official.
All of that, and we’re not even out of the minors yet. Yikes.
Despite being drafted 19th overall by the Lightning, he was traded after only a year in the AHL (spending a lot of his time a healthy scratch) before touching NHL ice. He was traded for a 37th overall pick to the Coyotes. Yikes, again. He was suspended for the first time in the NHL after only 3 months in the league, again for abuse of an official. He was also fined over $14,000 in addition to his 3 game suspension.
6 months later, he was moved again. The Coyotes won that trade, having received Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta, but that’s beside the point. The Rangers have had him ever since. His first season and a half with the Rangers was relatively quiet. After the Rangers re-signed him to a near $10mil contract, he reverted to his old ways. In the season opener against the Islanders, he overreacted to a hooking penalty so badly that he was also assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. He was subsequently healthy scratched for 2 games.
One of the most commonly discussed issues with DeAngelo is his wild (former) Twitter account. He used it to spout his social and political opinions. His opinions were controversial enough that, according to The Athletic, the Rangers asked him to stop. (I cannot confirm this as the Athletic has a paywall. *eye-roll*) Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it’s dubious for someone with such a platform to spout such things. Being a Trump supporter may not make me want to be his friend, but that’s not what disgusts me about Tony DeAngelo’s tweets. What’s disgusting is that he’s a COVID denier. It seems that these things took up just as much real estate in his head as hockey.
The Sum of Parts
What all of this boils down to is not that the NHL or the Rangers are targeting DeAngelo because of his political views. What this boils down to is that Tony DeAngelo is a loose cannon and a locker room nightmare. No one can tell him what to do, not coaches, not teammates. Hell, I don’t think he even listens to his own conscience.
The reason why no other team has shown any interest in him is the exact same reason why no one wanted Brendan Leipsic. If you can’t trust your own teammate, who can you trust? No GM in their right mind would introduce a player like that to their team, especially not when NHL teams are more diverse than they ever have been before. Not to mention that his suspension risk is way too high.
Tony DeAngelo is not a victim, as Larry Brooks from The New York Post suggested yesterday. It is no one’s fault but his own that he is in this position now. DeAngelo is the one in charge of his actions, of his words. He is the one who started the dominoes falling. He is the one who lets his tongue get him into trouble. He is the one who has proven time and time again that he cannot control himself. Tony DeAngelo is not a victim. Tony DeAngelo is the problem.
-Heidi Thomas (@DamselOnDrums)
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