Nashville Predators forward Jordin Tootoo addressed his pre-season fight with Columbus Blue Jackets winger Tom Sestito when he appeared 'Up Front' on Off the Record with Michael Landsberg Tuesday. That scrap saw the two fighters exchange vicious blows before the 6'4 Sestito struck his helmetless head on the ice. The 21-year-old lay motionless before being helped off by teammates and sent to hospital for evaluation.
"It's not a good sight to see. Something like that is pretty dangerous," Tootoo said. "Obviously my intention wasn't to bang his head off the ice. Fortunately, I got a hold of him after the game to see how he was doing and it sounds like he's on the road to recovery...I just apologized for what happened and told him my intentions weren't to do what happened there and that was it."
The 26-year-old Tootoo has developed a reputation as a superpest in the NHL since coming into the league in 2005-06. In fact, when NHL veteran Jeremy Roenick retired earlier this summer, he was asked which player he would want most to punch off of the ice. With an 18-year career to draw on and probably hundreds of potential candidates, Roenick had his answer. The recipient of that unique honour? None other than Tootoo.
"I think if he was on my team he wouldn't be saying that so that's the end of that story," Tootoo told Landsberg. "I think every team has a player like (me), so obviously it's great to have 20 guys behind your back game in and game out."
Asked for players with a comparable style to his, Tootoo didn't hestitate.
"Sean Avery is a guy that tends to play that role," he said, stressing that the difference between them was that Tootoo is "a man of few words. I just do it all on the ice and that's about it.".
Landsberg asked the 5'9, 200-pound Tootoo to sum up his role in the National Hockey League. His answer was simple and succinct.
"Frustrate the opposition," he replied.
Tootoo added that his number one choice in a fantasy hockey pool would be Pens' superstar Sidney Crosby, based on his "all-around" skill.
Tootoo had four goals and 12 assists in 72 games with the Preds last season, accumulating 124 penalty minutes in the process. He was drafted by Nashville 98th overall in the fourth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.