Tony DeAngelo says he’s learned from mistakes that have dotted his career and even had the New York Rangers paying him to to go away.
The Carolina Hurricanes were willing to take a risk and find out if it’s all more than just words.
The Hurricanes reached a deal with the 25-year-old defenseman on a $1 million, one-year contract Wednesday. It came on a busy opening day of free agency for the Hurricanes, who lost top defenseman in Dougie Hamilton while also completely reshaping their goaltending position.
But it was DeAngelo’s deal that stood out, as much for his past as anything he’ll do for the Hurricanes.
“A lot of stuff that’s happened in my career stemmed from emotions, from being competitive,” DeAngelo said. “There’s never been any off-ice problems or anything like that. It just comes from having a high level of compete for the game and passion for the game.
“I think I made some mistakes along the way, obviously, stuff that I regretted and tried to improve upon. And now I just have to prove it to the Hurricanes.”
DeAngelo was sent home by the Rangers last season following an undisclosed incident, went unclaimed by the rest of the league on waivers and had the final season of his contract bought out.
Going further back, DeAngelo was suspended three games by the NHL for abuse of officials late in 2016 and eight games by the Ontario Hockey League in 2014 for directing a racist slur at a teammate, the second time he was involved in such an incident. More recently, he has been criticized for social media posts, including one about the pandemic.
Asked directly if he supported the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, DeAngelo said he did not.
“I don’t think anybody in their right mind would support that,” DeAngelo said. “So, obviously, I didn’t support it. Everybody has their own political views. And I think people have a perception of myself based on some stuff I put out there. But obviously to think that I would support the Jan. 6th events is just ridiculous.”
DeAngelo is arguably the most polarizing player in the league, but with Hamilton reaching a deal in New Jersey, the Hurricanes are taking a chance that the 2014 first-round pick — who’s only one year removed from posting 53 points in 68 games — can fit in on the right side of the defense.
They’re also counting on their oft-cited locker-room culture with players like captain Jordan Staal and alternate captain Jordan Martinook — who returned on a three-year deal Wednesday — under Rod Brind’Amour, the Jack Adams Award winner as NHL coach of the year who guided Carolina to its first division title in 15 years and a third straight playoff bid.
DeAngelo said he had numerous conversations with Brind’Amour as well as Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon, saying he told Dundon: “I’m not going to let you down.”
He’ll also have to win over a vocal group of reluctant fans, with several taking to social media to protest the deal or say they’ll cancel season tickets over DeAngelo’s arrival.
“Stick with us,” DeAngelo said when asked about negative fan reaction. “Give me a shot, and I’m going to make the best for you guys.”
Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he and his staff talked to players, coaches and others who know DeAngelo and found no red flags to stop them from signing DeAngelo to a short-term deal.
“We did our research on who this person is beyond what the perception of him (is),” Waddell said on a video call with reporters. “There’s no doubt that he has made mistakes. We acknowledge that, and most important he recognizes that he’s made mistakes.”
Waddell said in a statement upon signing DeAngelo that the team is “confident that he can be a positive addition to our group.”
That group looks much different, particularly in goal, than at the end of Carolina’s playoff run this spring. The Hurricanes turned over their entire goaltending position in the past week.
They agreed to terms with former Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen on a $9 million, two-year deal and brought in Antti Raanta from Arizona for $4 million over the next two seasons. Waddell said these were the goalies Carolina targeted all along.
Despite combining for a .920 save percentage that ranked third in the league, the Hurricanes moved on from Alex Nedeljkovic, Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. After trading Nedeljkovic to Detroit last week, Mrazek signed with Toronto and Reimer with San Jose on Wednesday.
“It was an easy choice,” Mrazek said of signing for $11.4 million over three years with the Maple Leafs. “I think the last three seasons I established myself in a position that I found a way how to win important games.”
In other moves, Carolina acquired defenseman Ethan Bear from Edmonton for forward Warren Foegele, agreed to terms with veteran defender Ian Cole on a $2.9 million, one-year contract, re-signed Martinook for $5.4 million over three years and brought in Josh Leivo for $750,000 for next season.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports