Gorton said the 25-year-old defenseman “wasn’t able to move on” from being benched for the second and third game of the season — a decision made by coach David Quinn after DeAngelo committed an unsportsmanlike penalty in the home opener.
“I told him if his name came up in anything at all that he would be on waivers,” Gorton said. “I felt like I had to stay true to my word, the organization’s word.”
Gorton confirmed there was a postgame confrontation between DeAngelo and teammate Alexandar Georgiev after Saturday’s 5-4 overtime loss to Pittsburgh, as ESPN reported on Sunday. The organization saw that incident as the final straw.
Georgiev is fine, Gorton said, and is scheduled to be the backup to Igor Shesterkin in Monday’s game against the Penguins.
The Rangers placed DeAngelo on waivers Sunday, but he went unclaimed by the NHL’s other 30 teams. It was a surprising move considering New York signed DeAngelo to a two-year, $9.6 million contract extension this past October.
While DeAngelo is technically on New York’s taxi squad, Gorton said DeAngelo will stay at home until the team can work out a trade. The GM said the team is not looking into voiding DeAngelo’s contract.
DeAngelo was fourth in scoring among all NHL defensemen with 15 goals and 38 assists in a breakout 2019-20 season, one in which he finished 12th in Norris Trophy voting.
Besides his stint as a healthy scratch, DeAngelo has struggled this season. He was on the ice for four of Pittsburgh’s goals in the 5-4 overtime loss, including the game winner, which Georgiev let in. According to sources, DeAngelo said a comment to Georgiev while walking into the tunnel afterward, which sparked the physical altercation. It was quickly broken up by teammates, the source said.
DeAngelo has a history of disciplinary issues. He was suspended twice during his junior career in the OHL, including for violating the league’s policy covering “homophobic, racist, and sexist language” and abuse of officials. He also was suspended for three NHL games in 2017, while with the Coyotes, for physical abuse of officials.
“We did a lot of research, talked to a lot of people about Tony prior to acquiring him,” Gorton said. “We did our homework, we were comfortable. If you look at his track record with us, I think you know his season spoke for itself last year. There’s been a few things along the way but really nothing that would suggest anything from his past in juniors, there’s nothing like that that’s ever come up with us.”