During this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, Tony DeAngelo managed to do what was seemingly impossible when the Bruins and the Hurricanes faced off in the first round: make the majority of hockey fans side with Brad Marchand, who appeared to bring up the defenseman’s very checkered past after the two men exchanged pleasantries in the third game of the series.
DeAngelo—who was kicked to the curb by the Rangers in 2021 after reportedly getting into a physical altercation with his own goalie—only continued to make enemies in New York after he faced off against his old team in the second round, as Gerard Gallant did not hold back after the controversial player found himself at the center of a heated scrum following a game at Madison Square Garden.
Gerard Gallant telling DeAngelo "you're the fuckup" made my afternoon pic.twitter.com/lMUdmjByQD
— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) May 22, 2022
Given his reputation, many Flyers fans weren’t exactly eager to roll out the red carpet for DeAngelo after he was traded earlier this month. He did address some of those concerns in an interview where he asserted “I’m absolutely not racist at all,” although the fact that he found himself in a situation where he had to utter those words in the first place isn’t exactly the most reassuring thing in the world.
One of the more curious aspects of that trade was the fact that the Flyers had hired John Tortorella to become their new head coach in June; it seemed like Philadelphia was just begging for a scenario where the famously no-nonsense skipper found himself butting heads with the equally fiery DeAngelo.
However, Torts did what he could to put those concerns to rest when he chatted with NBC Sports in an interview where he voiced his support for the d-man, saying:
“The thing that bothers me and some of the things I’ve read is people are upset about Tony DeAngelo. Tony DeAngelo’s a hell of a player, Tony DeAngelo has personality.
Is he going to say and do some stupid stuff? You’re damn right he is. But I’d rather have a guy doing stupid stuff than having a choir boy here just going about your business.
You don’t win that way, you don’t win championships, you don’t build a team without any personality. Tony’s going to bring that and, plus, he’s a hell of a player.”
Some people—including Flyers winger Cam Atkinson—appeared to endorse that endorsement, but others weren’t exactly sold by the seal of approval.
Sorry man, I can get behind you, I can believe in Torts.
But there is no defending Tda.
— Tony DeAngelo is a Mistake (@CobbyWas) July 21, 2022
"Tony DeAngelo has personality. Is he going to say and do some stupid stuff? You're damn right he is. But I'd rather have a guy doing stupid stuff than having a choir boy here just going about your business. You don't win that way."
C'mon, Torts. That's a beyond bad response. https://t.co/W0f7lwEhjN
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) July 21, 2022
Fuck Tortorella. Racism isn't a personality trait to be praised, and it's never something that can be dismissed as "stupid stuff". Disgraceful, ignorant comment. I guarantee you can win championships without racism, homophobia, and all other forms of bigotry https://t.co/DMUdCaPQpr pic.twitter.com/i70pXHQIka
— Victoria (@fakehockeyteam) July 21, 2022
i personally am shocked that john “id bench any player that knelt for the national anthem” tortorella is a big deangelo fan
— Jay Forster (@_jakobforster) July 21, 2022
Digging his own grave already. Tony DeAngelo is way over paid and a piece of garbage. Him and big bad torts will be done in a year.
— Jonathan Sprang (@JSprangPP1365) July 21, 2022
It perhaps shouldn’t come as a huge shock that Tortorella would be a public advocate for one of his own players, but it also seems like he’s setting himself up for that quote to come back and bite him in a big way at some point.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if that ends up being the case.