An open letter to Tom Dundon, owner of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey club.
It’s taken me a while to pen this little missive whilst I’ve come to grips with the decision to sign free agent defenceman Tony DeAngelo to a one year contract for the 2021-2022 season.
I’m sure you’ve seen all of the hot takes over the past 24 hours since the free agency window opened and it’s safe to say they’ve trended fairly negative would be a massive understatement. Given the documented racist and/or homophobic behaviour and disciplinary history of this particular player and the sensibilities of the local market when it comes to the character expected of the men who play for the team we cherish, you really couldn’t have realistically expected a different reaction.
What has made the Carolina Hurricanes a special team worth supporting through the years has been the character inside that locker room, the good sportsmanship on and off the ice, and being positive role models in the community. And in the rare instances that a player has become a cancerous threat to the cohesiveness of the team, they’ve found themselves very quickly sent packing as that attitude just isn’t consistent with a winning culture based on proper respect for what every individual brings to the effort and the power of having a richly diverse community of fans supporting the team in their goal of bringing another Stanley Cup home to the Tar Heel State.
And yet as of today, the organisation has doubled-down on the choice of picking DeAngelo as a decision supported at all levels and pretty much ignored or glossed over the concerns of the larger community.
Right now, there is a serious disconnect between the marketing message that “Hockey is for Everyone” and the actions of not only signing this particular player who has shown repeatedly who he thinks hockey is really for but also not really coherently communicating an accountable action plan to assure your fans that DeAngelo will not engage in this sort of behaviour whilst under contract here in Raleigh. And should he revert to previous form, the moral character break clause in the standard player’s contract should be used with immediate effect.
At least Geoff Molson had the decency to recognise that the original statement put out by Marc Bergevin vis-a-vis Montreal drafting Logan Mailloux was woefully insufficient and added his personal assurance as owner along with concrete actions that the player and the victims of that player’s poor choices would be supported in a way that would be positive and constructive moving forward.
This measure of accountability *MUST* come from the very top of the organisation.
It needs to come from you.
And it needs to come fast!
It needs to be clear what character is expected of the players we want on this team. The privilege of being a member of our “Bunch of Jerks” demands no less than being a person of exemplary character in the room, on the ice, and in the community.
I understand the perceived necessity for signing Tony DeAngelo in the wake of Dougie Hamilton leaving a huge hole on the blue line after departing for New Jersey. And I have no doubt that Rod Brind’Amour and the other players can and will have *ZERO* tolerance for any poor attitude, bad decisions, and objectionable behaviour from this player and will swiftly ensure he treads the straight and narrow whilst he is here for as long as he lasts.
And truth be told, I do actually believe in giving people a second chance.
But when you’re talking about a player who has been given multiple chances to mend their ways and show genuine remorse as opposed to platitudes drafted by the marketing department and to date hasn’t really demonstrated change by his actions, it beggars belief that his heart and mind has been truly changed for the better and whether it is possible for him to ever truly change those attitudes and beliefs.
I would love to be proven wrong in this instance but many years of experience coming to the conclusion that racism and homophobia is not something that can just be turned on and off like a light switch suggests otherwise.
Time will tell if I actually will be.
Character matters in any organisation but especially in one that is so intertwined with their community.
North Carolina’s state motto is “esse quam videri”…”to be rather than to seem.”
Actions matter much more than any words or empty platitudes.
It’s well past time for you to take action to put right what just went wrong and at the very least provide an accountable framework to ensure that Tony DeAngelo will not be an embarrassment to this team and the good citizens of North Carolina.
One thing you might want to consider: whilst you might have broken out the checkbook to own the team, they were *OUR* team well before you arrived. And ask Sean Burke how comfortable his return to Greensboro was after his conviction for domestic assault and battery. Some of us original fans remember the B-U-R-K-E-9-1-1 chants in the Coliseum and it was beyond awkward.
Thank you kindly for your attention to this matter.