Wednesday’s opening of free agency created a multitude of Canes hockey news.
When the dust settled, the departed included Dougie Hamilton, Brock McGinn, Petr Mrazek, James Reimer, Warren Foegele, Cedric Paquette and prospect Roland McKeown.
Jordan Martinook was the only unrestricted free agent from the 2020-21 season to be re-signed.
The new arrivals included Frederik Andersen, Antti Raanta, Ethan Bear, Ian Cole, Josh Leivo and most notably Tony DeAngelo.
That makes for a whopping 14 players either coming or going on a single day and seemingly a ton of different things to debate/discuss in terms of building the 2021-22 lineup.
But by far and away the news over the past two days has been initially rumors that the Hurricanes were considering signing Tony DeAngelo and then the resolution that saw that come true.
I will not detail all of the transgressions here, but DeAngelo’s rap sheet includes using racial slurs as a junior player in addition to a couple suspensions for berating/accosting referees and most recently getting into an altercation with a teammate. The end result was DeAngelo being suspended and ultimately bought out by the Rangers who were already his third team after two others had moved on. He was six games in a two-year $9.6 million (total) contract when the Rangers decided to move on.
There are so many possible angles to the Hurricanes decision to sign Tony DeAngelo to a one-year ‘prove it’ contract for $1 million, but as is often the case with messy situations like this, I think the simplest and most direct angles are usually the ones that rule the day.
Signing a player with such problematic character issues
I am not in the camp that says anyone should be ‘banished for life’ even if they have done horrible things. This is not a hockey viewpoint but rather my world viewpoint that happens to apply here. But for me second chances need to be earned, especially in cases like this when it is really a fourth-ish chance. Obviously in conversations trying to resuscitate a prosperous career that had died, anyone can/will say the right things. For me, that does not count in the slightest as earning another chance. So my question with regard to DeAngelo is what, if anything, he has done to improve and become a better person. I did not get any clear indication of that from what he or the team said in media availability. If someone is aware of anything in this regard, please let me know. So in such a case where someone with a checkered past has not made measurable and visible strides to make amends and become a better person, I just think it sends a horrible message that, if talented enough, people can be above the law, human decency or whatever.
Based on that, I voted ‘no’ on this transaction when it was rumored on Tuesday and again after it happened on Wednesday.
The Canes hockey community
The other thing that jumps to the forefront is the damage done to the relationship between the team and its fans. To be clear, I recognize that not everyone agrees that this move was wrong, but there is a significant portion of the fan base that did. And the volume of fans, many of whom have been been with the team for a long time through thick and thin, who were ready to abandon their season tickets should have been enough of a sign to management that this move was a no go. With roughly a full day between when the uproar began and when the team could officially ink the contract at 12pm the next day, there was enough time for Canes management reassess the situation and reverse course. That of course did not happen.
Teams making decisions to overlook character issues in gifted athletes is not a rare occurrence by any stretch of the imagination. And no doubt teams make such moves all the time with fan revolts that fade very quickly into the background and are insignificant in the bigger picture of the fan base.
But I think this is different with this team and this community. Maybe because the team had to build a fan base in a market where hockey was foreign when it arrived, or maybe because the team lucked into having a great set of ambassadors who were accessible in people like John Forslund, Chuck Kaiton and many of the early players, or maybe because the market is smaller, the relationship between the Carolina Hurricanes and its fan base has always been a unique one. On the team side, the roster has mostly been free of players with problematic character issues. And on the fan side, the fan base has always been one to embrace players even during down times. Where else do failed goalie projects like Eddie Lack and Scott Darling become loved fan favorites even as they are playing their way off the roster? Where else has the fan base applauded the team as its season was ending in home playoff losses?
This market is unique. The relationship between the team and the fans is unique. And I think management completely missed the boat in that regard in signing Tony DeAngelo.
The result is that either team management ignored a significant portion of the fan base fracturing a unique bond between the team and its fan base. That hurts. Or possibly, the unique bond never really existed to begin with meaning that this market and hockey community is no different than almost all other professional sports franchises. For long-time fans with up to 23 years of supporting this team through ups and some difficult and extended downs, that hurts far worse.
If the team is winning, the immediate impact likely will not be significant. There will always be new fans joining a winner to help fill empty seats. But I think the damage from this and other moves will be felt in a big way when the team hits a downturn which in pro sports is inevitable at some point. When that happens, there will be a depleted core of downtime fans, and there will also be enough others who maybe stayed because the team was winning but have scars from this and other breaches that removed ‘through thick and thin’ loyalty that might have existed previously.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on the Canes decision to sign Tony DeAngelo and in so doing seemingly overlook his checkered past and raise ire with many in the fan base?
2) Do you buy that the Hurricanes hockey community and the relationship between the team and fans is/was unique? Or is that a mirage that is not really even possible with pro sports teams that are really just big business with brands and marketing spins in the truest form?
3) For a player like Tony DeAngelo, should there be another chance? If so, what should be the requirements to earn or receive one?
Go Canes! ???
1. DeAngelo has been a true POS (and I rarely if ever use that term) his entire career – at every level and at every stop. It doesn’t matter – juniors, the Coyotes, the Rangers. Waddell makes that comment that he has made mistakes and has acknowledged them and become better. I think the record speaks the opposite – he is no better than he was before and is probably worse. The slur he threw in juniors wasn’t the only issue in juniors. The altercation with Georgiev in the tunnel wasn’t the only reason the Rangers sent him on his way. The fan base that supprts this signing says RBA/Staal/Slavin/Williams will keep him in line. When the fuck has the Canes ever signed a player that others would need to possibly keep in check.
The Canes, as recently as last season, took pride in the character of players in the room and on the ice. Kick that concept out the door.
2. I am an old dude, and have been a sports fan since the 1960s. Even with the changes in sports – I was a St. Louis fan when Curt Flood challenged the system – but I still identify with a team when I identify with the individual players, while recognizing that players change from year to year. But when I go to a game, it is as much the name on the back of the jersey as the logo on the front. And if you were a fan through the dark years the only reason to follow the team was because we had good guys who were easy to root for. There was a real connection between team and community. I think some of that broke with the changes made in the first year of Sundon’s ownership, but it then stabilized for a couple of years. Going into the 2021-22 season is a real change, rhough. And I think the team is starting to lose the fans who believed in character who are being replaced by fans who think this guy is going to help us win, and that’s what is important. Character is impotant to me, and I have long thought that was a critical part of Hurricanes culture.
3) How many chances do you give a bona fide POS a chance to not stink. This SOB hasn’t chnageed an iota for the better in the 7 years that I know of his career. And to listen to Waddeel whitewash this guy’s history made me ill. I don’t care if Staal and Slavin or whoever nods their head and says “okay”, a team that signs this POS is not the team I have been pulling for for so many years.
I’m in the same age bracket as you, and I’m in virtually total agreement with you! …and Breezy, as well! Dundon, dunderhead, and warped waddy, haven’t heard enough from the decent fans, who want a team who WE CAN RESPECT! I’m not originally from here, but I think like our native southern folks who were taught RESPECT FOR THE PEOPLE…WHO HAVE EARNED IT! My feelings for the team have been compromised, I like most of the people, but…ugh, lousy owner, gm…!
Nothing I didn’t expect under the new owner. His trend of not understanding the difference between a business and a sports team started with Chuck Kaiten, then Forslund, then waiting for Aho to be offer sheeted etc. TD is a business man first and foremost but has never got the hang of the relationship between the team and the fans (or the team and the area). This will come back to bite him once he stops winning (or even before).
Sadly enough, unless the team is not done, I think the roster is significantly weaker than going into last season.
Aside from DeAngelo’s personal issues, he is a pretty enormous downgrade from Dougie and Ian Cole is a pretty “meh” defenseman.
Finally, the Canes UFA signing record is downright bad, this year is no different, at least not thus far.
When the news came out the Canes were looking at Tony DeAngelo I wasn’t happy. Still not happy about signing the guy, but I do think a lot of this is overreaction. The guy used a racial slur at 15. Not good, but 15 year olds do a lot of stupid things. While he’s been quite an ass over the past 10 years I haven’t heard any other racial issues. He’s been hard to get along with and runs his mouth too much. Not capital offenses, IMO. I don’t think he should be banned from the league. Would I prefer he get that chance somewhere else? Yes. Will I actively root against him? Hell no. I hope he has figured himself and life out, but if he hasn’t he should be on a short leash.
One thing being left out of the story is how bad DeAngelo has been at times on defense. It’s a big part of what got him run out of Tampa Bay and Arizona. I still picture the Canes abusing him in the bubble. Hopefully that will be improved as well.
On the hockey side DeAngelo is one guy who could approach Hamilton’s level of offensive performance. Very talented guy. The D group in general is improved, IMO. Having Cole and DeAngelo/Bear as your third pair is a big step up from Bean and Hakanpaa. I liked Hamilton to an extent, but he wasn’t worth $8.5 per for 7 years. His inability to bring his game in the playoffs was also a big factor.
I’m not wild about the DeAngelo signing, but I’m willing to give him and most anyone else a chance at redemption. I hope most folks will root for him to succeed instead of fail.
I totally agree on that, I’ll give the guy a chance away from the spotlight. We’ve all done stupid things in our lives, I’m no exception. But the Canes have always been all about the character of players, and unless Tony turns his retputation around this is a major break with the character first mantra.
I still wonder what the plan is with Gardner, if they can buy his contract out or trade him for a redemption forward or some such.
McGinn signing at 4 X 2.75 mill with Pit is god for him, too high for the Canes.
I think Dougie signed with the Devils at 9 per, (7 years, 63 mill).
The McGinn thing is a stunner to me. He made $2.3 here last year. He’s not worth an extra $450,000? Dude is nails. Much rather have McGinn @ $2.75 than Martinook at just under $2M. Not to rip Martinook, but McGinn is a much better player.
There are very few players in the NHL worth $9M. Dougie Hamilton is not one of them. Good player/bad contract.
It will be interesting to see what happens to Gardiner. I doubt there is a trade market for him. I don’t see him playing for the Canes next season. Could be one of those guys stashed in the AHL that shows up for one game a year.
Actually I’m doing a 180 on McGinn, Adam Gold called not signing him for that money Canes’ biggest (or second biggest) mistake yesterday.
Brock is a PK machine and he’s got a borderline third line scoring touch.
I still claim trading a goalie-of-the-future prospect for a third round pick is the dumbest move of the offseason. I think Ned for 3 mill is going to vastly outperform Freddie at 4.5.
I have comments but am formulating them cautiously. I’ll post them soon. Important topic that should not and will not be avoided by me.
Dmiller, I look forward to your comments. Probably less cautiously, my comments follow. They will be separated into manageable sized topics.
TDA has had in his life a series of issues that are grouped together as one. Most of the character issues with TDA stem from a slur (assumed to be racial) the player cast in the OHL 7 years ago at the age of 18. Details of what was said and to who are not public knowledge. He was punished and received counseling. He apologized to the person offended. The player offended is said to be friends with TDA. None of the players, coaches, officials at that game have said anything publicly about the event since. TDA has not had a single complaint of discriminatory language ever since. While the player cannot erase the blemish from his record he can learn and change because of it. I would argue that in terms of being a “racist”, TDA has been contrite and repentant. There is nothing more he can do to repair this mistake.
TDA has a history of referee abuse. He has been punished in the OHL and NHL for language and contact Apparently inconsistent referring can really piss him off. Imagine that. However, Refs stick together. They have memories like elephants. It will be a long time before the player will get the benefit of the doubt in a hockey call. This may hurt the Canes at a critical part of a game. If you separate the pile of problems that come with his history this will one will be the one we could rue in the future.
You left out that DeAngelo has played some horrible defense over the years. He may put up the points, but his defensive play may also hurt the Canes at critical times.
In his 3 full seasons with NYR, TDAs defense steadily improved. But as you point out he will not only replace some Dougie’s offense, but his defensive miscues as well. TDA will not be utilized as shutdown defender.
I have read all of the comments above and appreciate everyone’s points. My views on this signing are as follows (Note: I understand I do not know as much about what is really going on behind the scene in the NHL):
1. It seems that everyone, even his detractors, thinks DeAngelo is a gifted offensive defenseman. With Hamilton gone IMO the Canes needed some firepower from the blue line and on the power play.
2. I have read conflicting opinions on his defensive play with those who hate him for his past behavior saying he is lousy on defense and those fans who favor his signing in some cases praising his defensive abilities. IMO he will play good defense or Roddy will only use him sparingly if at all.
3. Speaking of Roddy…I believe in Roddy. If any one can get this guy straightened out (if he still needs it), it will be Roddy and it will show up quickly. I think most of the comments I have read have lost sight of the thing that holds all of this together through thick or thin and that is “In Rod we trust.”
4. Dun don has invested millions upon millions dollars to bring fun, winning hockey (we made the playoffs every year since his arrival) to Carolina. I do not believe that he, Don, or Rod all of a sudden set out to disrespect Canes fans. I think they acted in the belief in their own abilities in their judgement and their desire to improve the team. I also think they acted in their belief that the Canes fans would not turn on them even though many fans wouldn’t agree with the signing and would give them at least a grace period to see things through.
It is obvious from some of the comments on this site and many other sites that some “fans” are only “fair weather fans” and will turn on them the first chance they get. I am not and will not do that. Rod, Don and Tom all deserve or backing to give them a chance to make this work IMO. I am willing to do that.
As for DeAngelo, as long as he plays well, is a good teammate, and plays clean hockey, and is a good citizen, he should be discussed based upon his current exploits on the ice. If he falters I am not worried. Rod, Don, and Tom will take care of things.
I do not hate DeAngelo for his past behavior. I hope he has turned the corner and learned how to behave. His history of defense isn’t so great. The Canes abused him in the bubble. That is what sticks out in my head. Prior to the Rangers he was benched as much for poor defensive play in the Arizona and Tampa Bay systems as for bad behavior. He’s an offensive defenseman. Few of them are good defensive players.
That’s a fair enough assessment. At the end of the day I think we all want to agree with you and see the Canes succeed. We also like redemption stories so give DeAngelo a chance.
Canes made what could be a sneaky good signing yesterday, adding Brendan Smith for 800K, by now the Canes have signed almost the entire Ranger’s D circa 2019 defense (not counting Mark Staal).
He played some good games for the Rangers and brings the toughness factor. He ain’t gettin any younger but I think he might have a few years left in the tank.
A revamped Rangers pairing of Smith/DeAngelo might be the third pairing the Canes need. They can ease Joey Keen in for the occasional trial based on DeAngelo’s discretions.
Cole/Bear or Skjei/Bear would be the second pairing I imagine.
Wonder if the Canes have plans to trade Skjei, the blue line is getting crowded all of a sudden.
And what about Gardner?
A salary dump trade of Gardner + pick or mid-tear prospect to a team like the Ducks would be ideal. Or a reclamation forward, though none comes to mind at the moment.
If he’s been that injured there’s got to be a way to get him on LITR.
When it comes to LTIR the player has to agree. The Canes may think Gardiner is too injured to play effectively, but Gardiner has to agree. Otherwise he gets paid and the Canes eat the full cap hit.
I think the Canes need to see what kind of contract Svechnikov is going to sign (bridge or long-term) to know their cap situation. After all of that is settled they will deal with Gardiner