BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Sestito is not a great hockey player. He has five points in 27 NHL games and 112 points in 245 AHL games. He has 127 penalty minutes in those 27 NHL games, though, giving you an indication of the guy’s role on the ice. The only reason people outside of Philadelphia may know his name is because he laid a late, blind-side hit to the head of Nathan Horton, ending his season in January with concussion symptoms that lingered into the summer.
Apparently, Sestito’s agent thinks that doing or saying something stupid is a mighty fine way to make a name for yourself.
Scott Norton, the agent for Sestito, saw a tweet that said Horton is fully healthy and ready to play after missing the entire second half of last season and the playoffs. Norton tweeted the following: “Good news! Stay out of @TomSestito23 way next time.”
Now, because most hockey fans don’t follow many player agents, the tweet may have gone largely unnoticed. But CSNNE’s Bruins reporter Joe Haggerty challenged Norton for his tweet, leading to another parade of offensive tweets by the agent.
“Hockey is a rough sport! NO ONE likes to see injuries. Started my tweet by saying ‘Good news’ that Horton is healthy!” Norton tweeted. “I don’t want ANYONE to ever get hurt, but once upon a time in land called NHL, guys had to keep their head up.”
What. A. Joke.
Norton’s argument for the hit being clean is that no penalty was called and no supplemental discipline was issued. Clearly he’s familiar with the NHL’s sterling record for policing bad hits.
But despite that assertion, Sestito’s hit on Horton was anything but clean. Horton had released a shot almost a full second before Sestito came from behind Horton and elbowed the Bruins winger in the head. Because Horton got back to his skates and went after Sestito rather than lying unconscious on the ice, the hit hardly got the attention that Matt Cooke’s on Marc Savard did two years prior. But the hits were very similar. In neither case did the Bruins player “have his head down.” The only thing Horton did wrong was that he lacked 360-degree vision and couldn’t have seen a player coming at him from behind.
Watch for yourself and try to pinpoint exactly when Horton should have “gotten out of the way.”
Now, I shouldn’t go any further without fully disclosing that when it comes to this hit, I am biased. I’m incredibly biased. I hate concussions. I hate all concussions, but I especially hate needless concussions. And this was without a doubt a needless concussion.
Contrary to the Flyers’ broadcasters’ belief that Sestito “did a great job” by taking out Horton and drawing a penalty, there was nothing “great” about what Sestito did. He saw an opportunity to take a cheap shot at a very good hockey player, and he took it. He targeted Horton’s head. It was late, it was high, and it was unnecessary. Seeing the hit and assessing it as a dirty one has nothing to do with one’s hometown or hockey allegiances; it has to do with having eyeballs and a brain.
Obviously, Sestito is not the main culprit for all of Horton’s concussion problems. Those stem from the Stanley Cup Final in June 2011, when Aaron Rome took his own cheap shot at Horton’s head and knocked out the winger in Boston. Norton presumably would have liked Horton to stay out of the way of that flying elbow, too. Either way, though team doctors deny that players become more vulnerable to more head injuries after suffering major concussions, Horton was likely more susceptible to suffering another one last year, and Sestito provided it.
Sestito need not be completely demonized for the hit, but glorified? That’s beyond ridiculous. His agent should probably try to promote the actual positive things his client has done on the ice, but admittedly, that’s a tall task. So instead, he pumped up his client’s “tough guy” image and insulted a player who suffered serious concussion issues after being the recipient of a cheap shot.
(For what it’s worth, Sestito retweeted a fan in March who said he couldn’t wait for Sestito to return to the ice so that the forward “can get back to bustin some skulls.” He also tweeted to Haggerty in late February that his hit was clean, so it wouldn’t be fair to expect him or his agent to see anything differently.)
Norton should be embarrassed about his thoughtless tweet, but instead he treated the whole ordeal like one big joke. He retweeted a Flyers blog which, shockingly, thought the hit was clean. He dismissed anyone who took offense to the tweet as being silly Boston fans. He sarcastically said that “Lucic, Chara, Cashman, O’Reilly, Jonathon, etc have never hurt anyone in a game,” missing the key component of those players’ agents never mocking a man for suffering a severe concussion. He then said Bruins fans should redirect their anger at owner Jeremy Jacobs for the lockout. Eventually, he apologized, but only for his message “coming off poorly.”
Yes, Scott. When you said the recipient of a blind-side head shot should get out of your client’s way, it came off poorly. Because your message was complete garbage.