As a teenager in the late eighties and early nineties I was told that it was taboo to talk about politics and religion. Not sure what happened to that sentiment, but it has long since become un-taboo. In fact everything seems to be politicized these days – even within the NHL. Case in point, Tony DeAngelo of the New York Rangers.
DeAngelo has been an open and adamant supporter of President Donald Trump. When Mr. Trump was banned from several social media platforms after the Capitol riots — most notably his favorite, Twitter — DeAngelo went into a bit of tirade. He, like most Trump supporters, denounced the actions of a few private tech companies as trying to inhibit freedom of speech.
Since then, things have only gotten worse for DeAngelo. Not just the public backlash, but it has also seemingly affected his play. During the season opener against the cross-town rival New York Islanders, DeAngelo was not sharp and took four minutes in penalties – including a selfish unsportsmanlike penalty that head coach David Quinn was not happy about.
Fast forward to Saturday morning and Rangers head coach David Quinn announced that DeAngelo will not be in the lineup for the second game versus the Islanders. I am not sure whether that will increase or decrease the noise surrounding the situation, but we will soon find out. In the end, we may or may never know why he is being scratched, but it is a good reminder that hockey and politics don’t always mix well.
Another example happened several months ago when Bobby Orr — an absolute hockey legend — took out a full-page ad in a Boston newspaper to announce his support of President Trump. Firstly, coming from a blue-collar Canadian boy this came as a surprise for many fans. However, there has been no shortage of folks that simply lost any kind of respect for Orr. He likely does not care, but that might make it worse.
The fact is, no matter your politics we have all been dragged into this ongoing divisiveness at some point or another. At this point in history, your political alliance seems to be a direct reflection of your values, beliefs, and outlook of the world we live in. Rightly or wrongly, this is the way it is. An extremely unfortunate reality.
While Orr may not care, it has undoubtedly cast a different light on his legacy for many individuals. Meanwhile, it seems as though DeAngelo’s political affiliations and willingness to be so vocal about them has cost the feisty and outspoken defenseman actual playing time.
Further to that — and while I have no evidence to back it up — I would wager that his unsportsmanlike penalty may have been instigated by his outward allegiance to the President. It seems like a really easy chirp! If that is/was the case, then he might be in for a long season.
Is This Something the Rangers Need to Address?
Not sure how long the Rangers will tolerate the distraction, but we are about to find out and this situation could go in one of two directions. If there’s any connection to DeAngelo’s support of Trump to his play on the ice or how much he plays this season, will he keep quiet about it? Probably not.
And, if both sides draw a line in the sand, who has to move that line first?
Stay tuned on whether this story fades or livens up again.
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