Tony DeAngelo at the center of the ‘hate’ filled rivalry between the Rangers and Hurricanes, but for how much longer?

NEW YORK — There are some things professional athletes experience that we mere mortals never get to experience. The exhilaration of a quick dunk, the raw power of hitting a 400-foot homer or launching a shot at 100 mph, the thrill of skating over a goalie at the speed of Connor McDavid.

Then there’s what Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo experienced Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden: Some 18,000 New Yorkers chanting “F— You, Tony!” over and over again, their vitriol echoing off the iconic low ceiling of the world’s most famous arena.

What does it do ? Being so reviled by so many people that he can only express himself in rhythmic profanities?

Well, hearing DeAngelo say it feels good.

“I actually enjoy it,” DeAngelo said Athleticism Monday. “I think it’s great. It brings me more into the game. It shows that you’re putting yourself in their shoes, and they’re trying to put you in my shoes. It doesn’t work, but I laugh about it . It’s all part of the playoffs.

The Pulse newsletter

Free daily sports updates straight to your inbox. Register

Free daily sports updates straight to your inbox. Register


This is also nothing new for DeAngelo, who has always been a lightning rod in the league for his brutal style of play and sometimes even more brutal behavior off the ice. A few seasons ago, DeAngelo’s mother and sisters went to see him play at TD Garden in Boston. Bruins fans, like Rangers fans, are not for the faint of heart. And the Bostonians were particularly merciless in showering DeAngelo with boos, obscenities and all kinds of invective.

It wasn’t pretty. And DeAngelo’s family didn’t like being in the middle of it all.

But among the many texts and calls DeAngelo received Sunday night, somewhere in the middle of the group chat with all his old South Jersey buddies that was filled with laughter and links to videos of the chants on social media, even mom and dad couldn’t help themselves. but I find the songs amusing.

“When they watch it on TV, they laugh about it as well,” DeAngelo said.


Mika Zibanejad and Rangers centers peak when it matters most

Rangers fans hate DeAngelo. They to hate him. They hate him for the way his time as a Ranger ended (he had an altercation with teammate Alexandar Georgiev, which was the final straw after a series of problems with behavior) and they hate him because he plays for the Hurricanes.

Today, hatred – not real hatred, just the slightly healthier sports version – is as much a part of the Stanley Cup playoffs as scruffy beards and undisclosed injuries. And if there’s any doubt, the Rangers and Hurricanes hate each other after battling for the Metropolitan Division title all season (New York trailed Carolina by three points) and after a grueling seven-game series. games in the second round in 2022 (New York won that one too), it was erased just minutes after the start of the first game. It was physical, it was nasty, it was terrible.

It was playoff hockey.

“It’s what you imagine about playoff hockey when you’re a kid, those battles and that animosity,” Carolina forward Seth Jarvis said. “It makes things fun. This brings another element to the game that you need to focus on and be aware of.

“It’s intense,” Carolina’s Sebastian Aho said. “The crowd is into it. It will be a battle in every series. You have to love that as a player. You want to be in those moments as a player. Sometimes it even gets a little hot. You have to love the work.


Lazerus: Urgency and desperation fuel fierce Game 1 for Rangers and Hurricanes

Familiarity breeds contempt in hockey perhaps more than in any other area of ​​life. And these two teams know each other all too well.

“We hate each other,” Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov said with a smile. “It’s a good game to play against these guys.”

According to the players, it was all these regular season and playoff matchups that fostered this rivalry, not the countless crossovers between the two teams. But there are plenty.

Vincent Trocheck was on the Hurricanes in 2022, he is now a key forward for the Rangers. DeAngelo has been on both sides. Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei broke into the league with the Rangers. Rangers coach Peter Laviolette spent five years in Carolina, leading the Hurricanes to a championship in 2006. The Hurricanes once owned the rights to New York’s perennial Norris Trophy candidate Adam Fox. Hell, Hurricanes center Jack Drury is the nephew of Rangers general manager Chris Drury. Carolina’s Brendan Lemieux, Jesper Fast and Antti Raanta also played for the Rangers, although they only look at the series as scratches.

This might lead to more chirping on the ice, but all that friendly bonding can sometimes dampen the action.

“Honestly, it would probably make things less nasty, if you think about it,” DeAngelo said. “I mean, how many good friends do you have there?” Two of my best friends are on their team (Jimmy Vesey and Trocheck). These are two guys that I consider two of my closest friends, in and out of hockey. But it doesn’t make any difference once you play, you know what I mean? These are the Hurricane Rangers. This is more than enough in itself.

The trick is to not let hatred turn into stupidity, or worse, stupidity. The Hurricanes had the second-best power play in the league this season, and the Rangers were right behind them in third. The Rangers only got two power plays in the first game, but they scored on both – in a combined 23 seconds. So nastiness is fine until someone takes a bad penalty and costs their team a playoff game.

“You can’t fight back, that’s for sure,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Those are the ones they always choose you for. You want to initiate and make sure you do it within the rules because they will call penalties.

For DeAngelo in particular, crossing that fine line between physical and insane has always been a challenge. He found himself in the penalty box midway through the first period for shouldering the Rangers’ Will Cuylle directly in the face, and it took Mika Zibanejad nine seconds to score on the ensuing power play. With Brett Pesce recovering from a foot injury and expected to play at some point in this series, DeAngelo is playing for his spot — and his future, given that he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

DeAngelo changed teams four times in four years, including being waived by the Rangers following the Georgiev incident and reacquired by his hometown Flyers a year later. He’s only 28 years old, but with his history, that next contract is never guaranteed. But he said it’s much easier to block out those thoughts than to block out 18,000 fans cursing him.

“We are playing to win now, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “The other things will take care of themselves.” It’s more of a regular season thought, I can’t worry about it now. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. What am I going to do about this? I don’t care right now. All that matters is that we can win. And if we can win and it’s the end of the line, that’s great.

What if, along the way, he made every Rangers fan hate him even more?

“Hey,” he said with a smile. “All the best.”

(Top photo of Matt Rempe and Tony DeAngelo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *