Yesterday was a whirlwind of news, rumors, and unexpected roster moves. The day started with Tony DeAngelo being placed on waivers unexpectedly. It didn’t take long for some information to leak out. Tony DeAngelo and Alex Georgiev got into an altercation, and it sounds like Chris Kreider intervened. Adding to this was Adam Herman’s scoop that this was brewing for a while, following DeAngelo’s “joke” in not giving K’Andre Miller the puck from his first goal (which was a prank gone wrong, Miller has the puck, obviously).
*-Just a note that the Miller puck thing was refuted by Miller’s agent and the Rangers. However, Herman doesn’t just make stuff up. That’s not his schtick. Feels like damage control. This post will continue with the assumption that at least part of what Herman reported is true.
A Locker Room Divided
You don’t get punched in the face by your own teammate, as rumored, randomly or after one event. Things need to occur over time. That’s what looks like happened. Long before the “joke” with Miller’s first goal puck, the locker room was divided. Which means the Tony DeAngelo fight with Alex Georgiev was the last straw, not the first.
Sources confirmed to Brandon Cohen that the divide on DeAngelo goes as far over concern about who got the A’s in the offseason. The rumor is that some in the locker room thought DeAngelo was just being a jokester. However others thought he was going too far. Naturally, you can guess which group was upset over Jacob Trouba getting an A over DeAngelo.
The divide, if true, shouldn’t come as a surprise. DeAngelo’s antics off the ice were well noted. While many are willing to forgive past issues, which DeAngelo has many, it is under the pretense that the player has learned and grown. Clearly that is not the case. You can’t help but notice DeAngelo kept the first goal puck from Miller, but not Alexis Lafreniere.
Off Ice Antics
DeAngelo’s off ice antics have been the subject of much digital ink on this blog. Before he got to the Rangers he was suspended multiple times in Juniors for verbal abuse. Some of that abuse included racist and homophobic language.
As mentioned above, in the NHL that can be forgiven if a player has learned. Or at least has the common sense to keep his mouth shut. DeAngelo did neither. It was clear DeAngelo was still a hate filled bigot from the start who did not learn as he matured. He also did not keep his mouth shut. From the announcement of the lockdown in March, DeAngelo managed to draw the ire of fans and Rangers PR with a series of events through social media. In no order:
- DeAngelo, on more than one occasion, tweeted, retweeted, or liked COVID-denial disinformation.
- He challenged a fan to a fight on Twitter.
- DeAngelo helped launch a very controversial podcast.
- Joined and promoted an alt-right terrorist website.
Hockey has this unspoken rule that if you are producing on the ice, these things are overlooked. My own personal feelings about that unspoken rule notwithstanding, DeAngelo was not producing.
On Ice Performance
DeAngelo’s on ice performance was pretty rough to start the season. He was benched after the first game following a bad penalty against the Islanders. He then only recorded one assist in six games. DeAngelo was removed from the top powerplay unit, losing his spot to Adam Fox.
DeAngelo will always have solid offensive numbers, but his defensive play will always be called into question. He was never good in his own end, but he had been exceptionally bad through the first month of the season. His offensive metrics were good, but one assist is a far cry from his 53 points last season.
Given DeAngelo’s spot in the lineup and his removal from PP1, matching that season was not going to happen.
It Wasn’t One Thing
We do know it wasn’t just this incident with Tony DeAngelo and Georgiev. It also wasn’t just the incident(s) with Miller. I think we should assume it wasn’t just his social media presence. Or his tweets on COVID denial. Nor was it solely joining an alt-right website, then promoting it. It definitely wasn’t just challenging a fan to a fight on Twitter.
See where I’m going with this?
The Rangers love a reclamation project, and they got a very skilled one in DeAngelo a few years ago. But some people are beyond repair. Some will continually shoot themselves in the foot, regardless of the number of chances. Regardless of the millions of dollars at stake, DeAngelo shot himself in the foot. It is likely he has played his last game in New York.
Update: Larry Brooks is reporting that it was Miller who broke up the fight between Georgiev and DeAngelo. Vince Mercogliano is reporting that Miller also reached out to DeAngelo via text afterwards.
Just a reminder that multiple things can be true. It can be true that the puck thing was a prank gone wrong and that there is no ill will between the two players. It’s clearly a complicated situation. What we do know is that this fight with Georgiev was the last straw in numerous incidents.