The New York Rangers made a bit of a surprising move on Sunday when they placed Defenseman Tony DeAngelo on waivers. What made this somewhat surprising is that DeAngelo is in the first year of a two-year, $9.6 million contract that was signed just this offseason.
However, the 2-4-2 Rangers have not gotten off the start they wanted, and their poor play in the defensive end has been a part of their slow start. DeAngelo has one assist over six games this season after having a career season in 2019-20, scoring 15 goals and adding 38 assists over 68 games.
There could be many issues to this, starting with the idea that the Rangers may need to move on from an offensive type of blue-liner who is not helping the locker room culture.
In this case, offensive is referring to his skills in being a point-producing defenseman, not at all related to his political leanings that seem to send some in the Twitter universe into a frenzy. More on that later.
This appears to more of a case of a player who was not only underachieving but also someone whose antics have finally become more of a detriment to the team.
After the announcement of DeAngelo being placed on waivers, Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic posted an article that stated that DeAngelo got into an altercation with Alexandar Georgiev after the OT loss. The incident was a result of the fact that DeAngelo and Georgiev had a miscommunication on a loose puck almost immediately before the winning goal was scored. The inability to clear the puck did not allow the exhausted players on the ice to change up, which resulted in part in Sydney Crosby being able to win the game for the Penguins.
Georgiev was held out of practice for “maintenance” on Sunday.
— Rick Carpiniello (@RickCarpiniello) January 31, 2021
However, one incident does not usually result in a player being put on waivers. Physical altercations sometimes happen with players in teams on all levels of sports. This is more about many factors contributing to this decision.
After Sunday’s practice, head coach David Quinn addressed this issue per Stephen Whyno of AP Sports: “There’s always rumors, I’m not gonna address rumors. This isn’t about one incident. It’s not about one thing.”
Translation: Yes, something happened and yes between his behavior and on-ice play, we may be moving on from this player.
DeAngelo does have some behavior history, most recently when he has benched two games for an unnecessary unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the opening night loss to the Islanders. This is on top of two known benchings in the last three seasons.
Yes, the team has talked to DeAngelo quite a bit about his social media postings, but this is only a small part of the issue. Playing poor hockey and provoking a confrontation with a teammate is not only unacceptable, but it is also more magnified when the team is struggling out of the gate of a new season.
DeAngelo’s antics have long followed him in his hockey career. He was suspended twice in juniors for violating the league’s harassment, abuse, and diversity policy for making inappropriate comments. He was also suspended in juniors and while a member of the Arizona Coyotes for abuse of an official.
At this point, the New York Rangers have to send this message to him and the team in order to maintain and/or promote a positive culture on a team that is struggling. It is bad enough when you are underachieving and losing. It cannot be compounded by a “hot head” who is not contributing to the team in a positive way.
The “fans” who are very happy about DeAngelo being put on waivers should not rejoice too quickly. It is not likely that he will be claimed by any team before noon on Monday.
More than likely, the Rangers will have some decisions to make.
Cutting him outright is not likely since the Blueshirts will probably not want to eat the cap hit this move would require. They could send him to Hartford but that is transferring the issues to another team.
The most likely scenario will see him being sent to the taxi squad, which could keep him away from the main group of players for a bit until DeAngelo can have some time to re-think how he wants to proceed with his hockey career and the behaviors that are associated with being a team player.
Until something can be figured out, Quinn has indicated that Anthony Bittero will replace DeAngelo in the lineup with Lidor Hajek next in line from the taxi squad.