Tony DeAngelo recently signed with the Carolina Hurricanes and spoke with reporters during his introductory press conference on what went wrong with the Philadelphia Flyers.
It’s not exactly hard to guess why Tony DeAngelo ended up not being a fit with the Flyers. Being benched for the final five games of the season is reason enough to believe that a split was going to have to come. There was even more writing on the wall before that as the relationship between DeAngelo and John Tortorella was the biggest reason for his dismissal.
"”Obviously the coach and I wound up not fitting together, I guess that would be the main reason for leaving the team and being a free agent again the way it worked out,” DeAngelo said to reporters on Tuesday afternoon. “At the same time I enjoyed playing in Philly if that makes any sense to you.”"
DeAngelo had good things to say about new GM Danny Briere and President of Hockey Ops Keith Jones, citing that he believed they are going to be the ones to help turn the Flyers organization around. Hailing from Sewell, New Jersey, playing for the Flyers was “a dream” of his since he was a little kid. He enjoyed his time getting to know everyone in the organization and spending the year in Philadelphia. Things didn’t work out in the end, however. While neither DeAngelo nor Tortorella dove into much at the end of the season, the former was a bit more open about how he felt.
While he admitted that Tortorella was the coach and he’s the one who makes the decision, he felt the late season scratching was “ridiculous” and that he “should’ve played” those final five games. There was no controversies per say or anything personal that happened between the two sides, however. A few months prior, Tortorella talked about the team needing to work with DeAngelo on his defensive game, something that has been very clearly a weakness of his. It was easier to hide that with the Hurricanes when he was playing with someone like Jaccob Slavin. The Flyers tried to make a pairing work with Ivan Provorov, but the two struggled to make things work. While Provorov is the one he spent the most time with, DeAngelo also partnered with Travis Sanheim a bulk of the season, while seeing a significant amount of time with Nick Seeler as well.
DeAngelo’s playing driving numbers were best with Seeler, however he would’ve been on the ice against easier matchups than he was with Provorov or Sanheim. He still ended up being on the ice for more goals against than for. His 57 goals against at even strength is third overall, and second amongst all defensemen on the Flyers. He had the third most total time on ice at even strength, putting him at more risk for being on the ice for goals against. The team was on the wrong side of things when it came to driving play or generating chances with DeAngelo on the ice.
His numbers with Slavin were far superior to anything he did with the Flyers. The Hurricanes out chanced and out scored opponents heavily when the two were on the ice together. That likely had more to do with Slavin, however, as DeAngelo was able to flourish offensively playing with one of the best defensive defenseman in the entire NHL. While he had his best season in the NHL with the Rangers in 2019-20, DeAngelo put up the most assists (41) in his career and nearly earned a new career high in points with Carolina in 2021-22. He did so in four fewer games (64) than his total with the Rangers (68) that season.
There’s no guarantee that DeAngelo would be playing with Slavin once more as he and Brent Burns thrived together. They were easily the team’s best defensive pairing. Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei also excelled together, though the former has been in recent trade rumors. It’s possible DeAngelo sees a third pair role in his return to Raleigh, with the potential to play with newly acquired defenseman Dmitri Orlov.
But it’s an organization that DeAngelo is happy to return to as he mentioned the way the fans embraced his as one of his biggest reasons for coming back. He also talked about reuniting with Rod Brind’Amour, mentioning their relationship as one of the best he’s ever had with a coach. He’s the kind of coach that allows players to be who they want to be. DeAngelo also felt he played the best he ever have defensively whilst with the Hurricanes.
"“I like his honesty and I like the way he motivates the players and kind of understands everyone has different personalities and guys just wanna play. It’s not all trying to get it all his way. The respect guys have for him, including myself, when he speaks in the locker room, how he’s able to grab a group and kind of get you to want to go to bat for him every night.”"
One could potentially read between the lines about how DeAngelo feels about Brind’Amour compared to Tortorella. DeAngelo didn’t want to get into any of the “numerous things” that led to his departure from the Flyers. The thought of Tortorella wanting him to play a certain way, though, seems to have at least been part of the problems that came about.
After being bought out for a second time, DeAngelo has moved on. The Flyers will as well. It was a relationship that was bound to clash and ended as many could’ve anticipated.