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Hurricanes’ signing of DeAngelo, reported interest in Virtanen demonstrates hypocrisy

The Hurricanes’ front office has brought on the destruction of their painstakingly built goodwill.

New York Rangers v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images

Update: Sara Civian has reported that the Hurricanes do not and never did have interest in Jake Virtanen. This contradicts a report from David Pagnotta, which Civian corroborated (below), yesterday that the Canes would be a team interested in him.

For the past few years, the Carolina Hurricanes have been everyone’s second favorite team. A “Bunch of Jerks” who didn’t fit the traditional hockey mold. A group led by a future Hall-of-Famer known for his hard work and character. A team that embodied a city and the warm and inviting culture that had been built there.

An organization with some of the best people working inside of it, working hard to make it special with its amazing community outreach, inclusivity initiatives and kickass social team that really kept the fans engaged.

It’s a team that’s felt like a family, from the players on the ice, up into the stands and out to everywhere within the community.

Simply put, it’s an organization that fans have been proud to claim as their own.

However, the team has now signed the controversial blueliner, Tony DeAngelo, to a one-year contract.

They are also rumored to have interest in Jake Virtanen, a report that first came from David Pagnotta and was corroborated by Sara Civian.

The fact that even one of these two players is now with Carolina, is nothing short of blatant and disgraceful hypocrisy from the Hurricanes’ front office, and no one could blame those fans if they no longer wish to lay claim to it.

DeAngelo was suspended in the OHL for violating the league’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy resulting from a slur directed at a teammate.

DeAngelo was also twice suspended for abuse of an official, once in the OHL and once with the Arizona Coyotes.

DeAngelo ultimately was waived and assigned to the taxi squad as the Rangers pursued a trade for what amounted to the entirety of the shortened 2021 season after he got into a physical altercation with goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. At-the-time GM Jeff Gorton said he had played his last game as a Ranger. He was subsequently bought out by the team at the end of the season.

As if that wasn’t enough, to even consider Virtanen while he is still the subject of an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct — which he has denied — is disgusting nonetheless. It is blatantly disrespectful not just toward female Hurricanes fans or team employees, but toward any self-respecting person.

“We’re trying to build a culture here. We want 20 guys here that get it and fit. If that guy doesn’t fit, we don’t want him.” Those were head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s words, spoken just a few months ago after he signed his contract extension with the Canes.

So for the front office to have the audacity to bring in either a guy who’s insulted his own teammates or a player who is the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation – or, heaven forbid, both – into the fold is a slap in the face of every single fan that ever respected the Carolina Hurricanes.

There are no signs of Brind’Amour’s vaunted “culture” present in the past history of either of those two players.

The signing of DeAngelo embodies everything that the Carolina Hurricanes have seemingly stood against and treating them as simply cheap options to upgrade the team is indefensible.

Neither player should be given a “second chance” as I don’t think either has done anything that shows that they are deserving of one. Both were bought out by their respective teams for a reason after all.

Opportunity is earned, and especially the opportunity to earn millions of dollars playing in the NHL — hockey’s greatest league.

This has nothing to do with politics or “cancel culture” either. This is simple cause and effect.

Many had seen the Hurricanes’ words and donations throughout the years — whether it was to support women in sports, Pride, people of color, or any of their other great initiatives — as a sign that the organization was dedicated to being one of the pillars of change within hockey’s long tainted culture.

But words mean little in the face of action, and right now, it’s clear that the words from the Hurricanes are ringing hollow.

The team took a pledge with Black Girl Hockey to “Get Uncomfortable” by disrupting racism on and off the ice and make hockey welcoming. How is enabling a player who was suspended for hurling slurs at a teammate in line with that?

The team has also been one of the more vocal NHL clubs when it comes to its support for LGBTQ+ communities with the Hockey is for Everyone initiative.

Were those just more empty words?

And how can they possibly say they support inclusivity for women when they showed interest in signing a player who’s facing sexual misconduct allegations?

It’s not totally fair to say that the Carolina Hurricanes organization, as an entity, is entirely a hypocritical organization, because I truly believe that the people I’ve known and worked alongside within the team are good and honest people who do want to increase the diversity and outreach for the game and community.

But it will be nearly impossible to continue to support this club when those who own and run it are willing to make a mockery of everything that the team has seemingly stood for.

Sports as a whole are much more than just teams and players. The communities that they foster mean as much if not more than the results on the field or court because no matter who you are or where you come from, you can find belonging in them. It’s how long-suffering franchises still maintain loyalty despite it all.

It’s how the Canes made it through a decade with no playoffs and it’s part of the reason why people were so happy to see the team return to relevance.

But you can’t simply make moves with only on-ice impacts in mind, and try to win at any cost.

You want your team to win, but you want to be proud of them when they do it.

It’s truly a shame that this will be a part of the team’s legacy, but they will deserve all the backlash that comes from it. Because you can’t expect fans to just get over it and love something, while actively enabling players who don’t love them back.

The simple fact that the team showed any interest at all in signing DeAngelo and Virtanen highlights everything that’s still wrong with the game today.

No matter what you do, so long as you are really good at skating and shooting a puck, it’s apparently OK.

The sport is full of players who really do need a second chance. Plenty of players were glanced over for silly reasons such as size or a single poor showing during their only ever call-up to the big leagues.

These two do not need one. And the Canes will only have themselves to blame for the wholesale destruction of all the goodwill they’ve painstakingly built up.