Tony DeAngelo was sent to the Rangers’ taxi squad on Monday, one day after the team waived the high-priced defenseman, who was on the ice as his team surrendered four goals in a 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
DeAngelo, 25, signed a two-year, $9.6 million contract extension in October after a season in which he scored 15 goals and had 53 points, both career highs, in 68 games. He had only one assist and a minus-six rating in six games this season for the Rangers, who were 2-4-2 ahead of Monday’s scheduled game.
According to multiple news reports, DeAngelo and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev had a physical confrontation after Saturday night’s loss. Just before Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal, DeAngelo and Georgiev appeared to have a miscommunication over handling the puck behind the Rangers’ net.
“We had an incident that happened,” Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton said. “It’s in our room, we’re dealing with it. This is one of the ways we’re dealing with it. Our team is ready to move on.”
After DeAngelo cleared waivers Monday, the Rangers had the option of sending him to their A.H.L. affiliate in Hartford, Conn., assigning him to the Rangers’ taxi squad or releasing him outright.
Assigning DeAngelo to the Hartford Wolf Pack would have subtracted $1.075 million from his $4.8 million salary-cap hit. The Rangers have no opportunity to buy out the remainder of DeAngelo’s contract until the summer.
Instead, the Rangers will pursue a trade.
“He has played his last game for the Rangers,’’ Gorton said. “What happens going forward, I don’t have the answer for that. He’s been assigned to our taxi squad. We’ll look right now to see if there’s another place for him to play.”
“This isn’t about one incident,” Rangers Coach David Quinn said on Sunday, declining to specify why DeAngelo had been waived. “It’s not about one thing. It’s a situation the organization felt was best at this current time, and we’ll see how the situation plays out.”
“It’s part of the business,” Quinn added. “It’s a decision we made. You’re always sitting down, evaluating your organization. It’s something we did. We’ll see how it plays out.”
DeAngelo has been involved in controversies on and off the ice during his career. DeAngelo has played down the severity of the coronavirus on social media. He took down his Twitter page in January and said he would be joining Parler, the app some conservatives began using after Facebook and Twitter began flagging posts for misinformation.
“I think there’s a fine line with social media but there’s also freedom of speech and we certainly watch what our players say and do on social media,’’ John Davidson, the Rangers’ team president, said. “But that had nothing to do with this.”
The Rangers have benched DeAngelo twice over the past three seasons, most recently for two games after he incurred an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for slamming the penalty box door and yelling at referees late in an opening-night loss to the Islanders.
“We want to make sure we have a great culture here and we’re working every day to make sure that happens,’’ Davidson said.
DeAngelo also was twice suspended while playing junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League for violating the league’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy — at least once after using an unspecified slur against a teammate. And he was suspended once in juniors and again with the Arizona Coyotes for abuse of an official.
The Rangers acquired DeAngelo, a first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014, from the Coyotes in June 2017 as part of a trade for center Derek Stepan and goaltender Antti Raanta.
The Rangers’ game Saturday against the Devils has been postponed as part of the schedule changes caused by the Devils’ having 10 players on the N.H.L.’s Covid-19 protocols list. The Devils will not play until at least Saturday. The Rangers also added Kaapo Kakko, a second-year forward, to the Covid-19 list.