Divorcing Tony DeAngelo now could have long-term benefits for New York Rangers

New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (77). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (77). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

It appears as though a parting of the ways could be on the cards for Tony DeAngelo and the New York Rangers, and it may not be such a bad thing.

According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the New York Rangers have placed Tony DeAngelo on waivers in what appears to be a stunning move, although you need to fully scratch beneath the surface in order to get a full picture of what is going on here.

Yes, the Rangers rewarded DeAngelo with a two-year, $9,600,000 contract in the offseason after the offensive defenseman carved out a career-year in 2019-20 with 53 points (15 G, 38 A) in 68 regular-season games, including 19 points (3 G, 16 A) on the power play.

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New York General Manager Jeff Gorton was willing to pay DeAngelo an AAV of $4.8 million due to his offensive upside, his production and the fact that he had seemingly calmed down and matured after more than a few incidents throughout his young career, which is part of the reason why the Tampa Bay Lightning were so willing to part with their 19th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

However, they say that a leopard never changes its spots and the concerning reports that have followed DeAngelo throughout his career began to rear their ugly head again during the offseason and in the early stages of the 2020-21 season, with the 25-year-old clear and very vocal in his support of former President Donald Trump, quitting Twitter and joining Parler, which is a platform for far-right conspiracy theorists.

With his general activity on social media sparking outrage and causing concern within the Rangers organization, it appeared that DeAngelo was walking a tightrope with the front office and he was called into at least one meeting this season over his overall conduct.

Enough is enough for the New York Rangers and Tony DeAngelo

Couple that with the fact that DeAngelo has been sluggish to start the 2020-21 season to say the least, recording just one assist in six games with a -6 rating and the on-ice meltdowns that plagued much of his early days with the Rangers made an unwelcome return, forcing Head Coach David Quinn to healthy scratch the blueliner for two games.

Quinn has taken a no-nonsense approach to DeAngelo’s tantrums over the past couple of seasons, and the sight of the right-shot slamming the penalty box door and yelling at referees after being assessed with a holding penalty earlier this year would not have sat well with Quinn or the front office, especially given DeAngelo’s overall poor play this year coupled with his erratic behaviour off the ice.

And, after being on the ice for four of the goals scored by the Pittsburgh Penguins in their Overtime win over the New York Rangers on Saturday night, reports have started doing the rounds that suggest DeAngelo was involved in an altercation with a teammate in the wake of the game and reportedly took a punch. Now, we don’t know if this is true at all and we aren’t going to speculate further, but from his general activity on Twitter to challenging a fan to a fight to launching a highly-controversial podcast, Tony DeAngelo has caused the New York Rangers nothing but headaches.

By the way, Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic has reported that there was indeed an altercation between DeAngelo and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev after last night’s game in the tunnel, an incident that may well have proved to be the final straw for the Rangers.

At the end of the day, DeAngelo is perhaps worth some of the trouble if he can be a consistent performer as he was in 2019-20 but, as we have seen so far this season, he has reverted back to the player who couldn’t quite figure it out with the Tampa Bay Lightning and it appears as though the Rangers have finally had enough and decided that the clear talent isn’t worth all the headaches.

Plus, as good as he can be offensively, he is a liability in his own zone and, with a bevy of high-end blueliners in the farm system, it may be that the Rangers feel like they can cope without DeAngelo’s offensive production given that they have Adam Fox on the roster, while getting rid of sloppy play in his own zone, turnovers and all the off-ice headaches that come in a complete package with Tony DeAngelo.

Of course, there is no guarantee that DeAngelo will get claimed by a team given that there are reports out there that suggest the New York Rangers did try to move the defenseman on multiple occasions throughout the offseason but to no avail.

Tony DeAngelo (77)
New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (77). Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports /

We will find out soon if DeAngelo is claimed or not, obviously, but if he isn’t then I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers front office try one last desperate move to trade him, and they would be absolutely right to. And there’s one huge reason for that.

Currently in the latter stages of a rebuild, the New York Rangers are trying to establish a new culture built around a core of young players in the ilk of Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, Adam Fox, Igor Shesterkin and K’Andre Miller, players who should be the faces of this storied franchise for years to come.

They will also be expected to represent the organization and the city of New York in the most professional way at all times so, therefore, the front office won’t want a bad influence hanging around in the locker room and acting as a poison around their younger players who they are trying to develop as both people and as players.

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Therefore, pulling the trigger on an ugly divorce with Tony DeAngelo may be painful in the short term given the talent the team would be giving up on but hockey has to take a bigger stance than that as do the New York Rangers, so parting ways with Tony DeAngelo either via waivers or through other means would not only be the best possible thing for this team in the long run, but it would also send out the absolutely right message that wrong and simply disturbing behaviour won’t be tolerated. After all, the Rangers have probably stood pat for far too long and it is overdue that they are finally taking a tough stance against Tony DeAngelo and his unacceptable behaviour that is more than just acting like a child when things don’t go his way.