Tom Sestito is waiting by the phone for a call he doesn’t want to have to take.
The Penguins winger will have a phone hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for a check from behind on Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom.
Sestito’s hit came at 13:10 of the first period. He was given a major for checking from behind, which also includes a game misconduct, by referees Wes McCauley and Brad Meier. Enstrom was taken to the hospital for further evaluation of possible facial fractures.
From Rule 43:
A check from behind is a check delivered on a player who is not aware of the impending hit, therefore unable to protect or defend himself, and contact is made on the back part of the body. When a player intentionally turns his body to create contact with his back, no penalty shall be assessed.
Any player who cross-checks, pushes or charges from behind an opponent who is unable to protect or defend himself, shall be assessed a major penalty.
There’s no provision for a minor penalty on this call. If the referee determines there was intent to injure, a match penalty will be assessed.
While Enstrom did turn his body in order to play the puck, it won’t be surprising to hear Player Safety put the onus on Sestito to deliver a clean hit on the play.
Sestito has spent most of the season in the AHL, suiting up for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Wednesday’s appearance was his first in the NHL since November.
He was looking to make an impact, which he certainly did. In just 1:02 of ice time, Sestito piled up 20 penalty minutes.
- His first shift: a fight against Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn.
- His second shift: getting credited for a +1 for being on the ice for a goal by Evgeni Malkin.
- His third: the dangerous hit on Enstrom that resulted in his ejection.
“They didn’t call him up to dangle,” said Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice.
Pens head coach Mike Sullivan defended Sestito’s on-ice contributions.
“[Sestito is] a guy that brings a physical element to our team,” said Sullivan. “He has the ability to create some anxiety and he has the ability, I think, to give our players a certain comfort level when they’re on the ice.”
Sestito’s last NHL suspension came back in 2011. Then with the Philadelphia Flyers, he was suspended for the remainder of the preseason and two regular season games for a hit from behind on Andre Deveaux of the New York Rangers.