There was a physical altercation between Tony DeAngelo and Alex Georgiev outside the locker room following Saturday night’s 5-4 overtime defeat to the Penguins at the Garden that was the trigger for the team placing No. 77 on waivers, a source close to the team confirmed to The Post.
DeAngelo had been on the ice for the overtime goal as well as the Penguins’ first three goals at five-on-five. There had been a mishap — or miscommunication between the goaltender and defenseman — that kept the puck alive preceding the goal for which Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin had been on for more than two minutes.
There was also questionable bad body language displayed by DeAngelo in turning away from the net following each of Pittsburgh’s first two scores.
DeAngelo is on regular waivers as opposed to unconditional waivers, The Post has learned. According to the CBA, being placed on and clearing unconditional waivers are necessary for a team to be able to terminate a player’s contract.
There does appear to be an exception, according Section 14 of the Standard Players’ Contract that states: “The Club may also terminate this SPC [Standard Player’s Contract] upon written notice to the Player (but only after obtaining Waivers from all other Clubs) if the Player shall at any time: a) fail, neglect or refuse to obey the Club’s rules governing training and conduct of Players if such failure, refusal or neglect should constitute a material breach of this SPC.”
It is unclear whether the Rangers will claim that Saturday night’s incident rises to the level of a material breach. If so, one would expect the NHLPA and DeAngelo’s camp to contest that charge. The defenseman is represented by Pat Brisson.
Waivers on DeAngelo expire at noon Monday. It is unlikely, following an offseason in which the Blueshirts could not scare up a willing trade partner for him, that any team would claim the defenseman, who is eight games into the first season of a two-year contract that carries an annual cap hit of $4.8 million.
It seems impossible though that the Rangers would keep DeAngelo around the team by sending him to the taxi squad. For cap purposes, the Rangers would gain relief of only $1.075 million if DeAngelo is off the NHL roster. It also seems unlikely that they would want him skating with and playing for the Wolf Pack.
Sum and substance, all signs are pointing to DeAngelo’s time in New York having expired in a blaze of controversy even if the details of finalizing the divorce are murky. Maybe this is always the way it was meant to end. This seems like a situation from which there is no coming back.
Asking waivers on a 25-year-old who was the NHL’s fourth-highest scoring defenseman last season with 53 points (15-38) while running a power play that clicked at close to 30 percent after Christmas is, after all, rather extreme. You don’t do this because a player goes minus-three in a game, as DeAngelo did Saturday.
In addition to the questionable body language from DeAngelo on Saturday, there had been indications that DeAngelo had not reacted to being scratched from the season’s second and third games with an especially constructive or positive attitude. It probably didn’t help that he was removed from the first power play unit for a few games until he was restored to the remodeled PP1 on Thursday in Buffalo.
DeAngelo came to the Rangers from Arizona in the 2017 draft day deal with the seventh-overall pick (who turned out to be the since-traded Lias Andersson) in exchange for Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta. There was baggage attached to the defenseman’s résumé, with him having been suspended twice in the OHL for violating the league’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy. He was traded within a year by the Lightning, who’d selected him 19th overall in the 2014 draft.
The South Jersey native’s agitating presence on social media has made him a lightning rod among the fan base. There had been numerous conversations between management and DeAngelo’s camp about the wisdom of the defenseman lowering his off-ice profile. These were irritants to the hierarchy but did not appear to become distractions or off-putting issues within the room.
It is unclear what management’s next step will be if DeAngelo does clear. The Blueshirts may not have the right to simply send him home and continue to direct deposit his bi-monthly paychecks if unable to place him with another organization.
It does, however, seem pretty clear that DeAngelo has worn out his welcome in New York.