Tom Sestito of Rome is hanging up his skates. The 11-year hockey pro announced on Facebook Tuesday night that he is retiring.
“Today my family and I came to the decision to retire from playing hockey,” he posted.
Sestito will turn 31 on Sept. 28. The left-shooting forward was a big presence on the ice at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. He was drafted in the third round, 85th overall, in 2006 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He played a total of 13 NHL games with the Blue Jackets over the course of the next four seasons. He was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers after the 2010-2011 season then played 21 NHL games with the franchise in the next two years.
He signed with the Vancouver Canucks late in the 2012-13 season and played in a playoff game that season. He played 103 games for the Canucks. In the 2013-14 season he played 77 games for the Canucks, virtually the entire season, scoring five of his 10 career goals and four of his 11 career assists. He also collected 213 penalty minutes, which led the league. He ended his NHL career with 499 minutes in the penalty box.
He played 10 games for the Utica Comets during the 2014-15 season, rehabilitating a lower body injury while in the Vancouver organization.
He signed a free agent deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the middle of the 2015-16 campaign and played 17 games over two seasons.
He ended his career with 154 NHL games played and 21 points, including a game-winning goal for Philadelphia in 2012-13.
In his farewell post, he thanked his wife Jenna Sestito first. “You have picked up your life and travelled from England to Vancouver to let me fulfill my dream of playing in the NHL and you did that with no complaints or questions.” He thanked his grandmother Patti Dolan and parents Kim Bulinski and Peter Sestito.” He thanked his step-mother Julie Sestito: “You have all made sacrifices to bring me to practices and games for the first 16 years of my life that I can never repay you for.”
He thanked older brother Tim, a former pro hockey player who retired just less than a year ago after 13 seasons and 101 NHL games (one with Edmonton and 100 with New Jersey). “At an early age you started to push me and be the role model I still look up to today, and even tried to push me to play one more year.”
He thanked billet parents Patty Young Picard and Joe Picard, who opened their house to him when he was 17. Billet parents host out-of-town junior players.
Sestito also thanked Jamie Huff, “the first coach that truly believed in me and molded me into a player that could last in pro hockey,” as well as his agent, Scott Norton, saying, “You fooled management of NHL teams to overpay me for my service that I know wasn’t an easy task!”
Sestito, who played RFA hockey as a freshman, said it was hard to miss out on a lot of the typical things in his teens but also had fun and learned from opportunities such as travel tournaments. Other sports had to take a back seat to hockey for him and his brother as they strived to achieve long-term hockey goals. Both played football and baseball when they were in school.
Sestito said his fondest memories of the NHL will be “the people that I met, the coaches I met who I still talk to today. My favorite coach has to be John Tortorella. I talked to him the other day, reminiscing.” He said there are also players he will stay in contact with. “It was a real fun experience.” He said he might pull out some of the mementos of his time in the league, the score sheet from his first NHL game, the puck from his first goal and some of the jerseys.
The family has settled back in Rome. “I just love it here. My family’s here. My wife’s family is here. Rome is home, as corny as that sounds. It just feels right to be here.” He said he’ll take some time away from hockey to spend more time with his young family, but, “I think I’d want to get into coaching eventually.”
“For now onto the next chapter,” he concluded in his Facebook post. What might that be? “I have a few things in the works. Right now I’m just relaxing.” He said he has already done something new: he joined his first fantasy hockey league.