Tony DeAngelo has played his final game for the New York Rangers despite going unclaimed on waivers, after a warning from the organization about behavior and an undisclosed “incident" he was involved in, general manager Jeff Gorton said Monday.
The Rangers assigned DeAngelo to their taxi squad, but the 25-year-old defenseman won't be around the team moving forward. The NHL's other 30 teams passed on the opportunity to add DeAngelo when New York put him on waivers Sunday.
“We told a player that ‘Enough is enough, let’s move on,’” Gorton said. "I feel like this is the necessary move that we had to make.”
The Rangers just re-signed DeAngelo to a $9.6 million, two-year contract in October. They're not contemplating any way to void that contract but instead are “talking about finding him another place to play and letting him move on with his career,” Gorton said.
An NHL team is not allowed to buy out a player during the season. One option would be retaining a portion of his salary in a trade.
Gorton believed DeAngelo “wasn’t able to move on from” being a healthy scratch earlier this season. Coach David Quinn benched DeAngelo for a bad penalty in the season opener and was put on alert by the organization in the aftermath of that decision.
“I had spoke to him at that time and said: ‘Listen, if there’s any more issues here, the time is going to come where we’re going to put you on waivers and move on. No more issues. If your name is in anything at all that we have to hear, we’re going to move on,’" Gorton recalled. “I made that statement to him, something happened and I pretty much have to stay true to my word here and the organization’s word that it was time to move on.”
DeAngelo was on the ice for four goals against in an overtime loss Saturday against Pittsburgh and had a minus-6 rating this season.
Gorton declined to elaborate on what happened between DeAngelo and backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev on Saturday night. Gorton said Georgiev was “fine” and able to back up.
The Athletic and New York Post reported that DeAngelo was involved in a postgame “altercation” outside the locker room with Georgiev.
"We obviously had an incident and we’ve dealt with it," Gorton said. “We had an incident that happened. It’s in our room. We’re dealing with it. This is one of the ways we’re dealing with it. Our team is ready to move on.”
Quinn said Sunday “this isn't about one incident” and was eager Monday to put the issue behind him before New York hosted the Penguins.
“Obviously this was a unique situation," said Quinn, who added that he texted with DeAngelo on Sunday night. "You’ve got to manage it in the middle of the season the way it happened, (so it) might be a little different. But from everything we’re feeling, guys are in a good spot right now.”
Team president John Davidson said there was no truth to a report about DeAngelo and rookie K'Andre Miller not getting along. Davidson added that DeAngelo's social media presence, which include quitting Twitter when the company permanently suspended former President Donald Trump's account, was not the reason for the Rangers moving on.
“Sometimes he gets in his own way, which has happened again, and we had to make it clear that if something came up again that something’s going to happen,” Davidson said. “Something happened again.”
That the Rangers took such an aggressive move to attempt to cut ties with DeAngelo speaks volumes about the 2014 first-round pick’s fall in the eyes of the front office and coaching staff. At 2-4-2 with six points through eight games, the New York sits in last place in the East Division.
DeAngelo has one point in six games. He tied for 12th in Norris Trophy voting last season with 53 points in 68 games during the shortened regular season.
“He’s not the only guy on the team that had a difficult start so far,” Gorton said. "Yeah, I am surprised it came to this, but this is the decision we’re making.”
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