Michael Bunting had a busy Tuesday as the Toronto Maple Leafs won against the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 in their penultimate game before the short Christmas break. Bunting was named the first star of the game, as he opened the scoring for Maple Leafs, with his 8th goal this season.
However, it was for a completely different reason that attention was drawn to him at the end of the first period. Bunting got into a scrum with several players after Pierre-Edouard Bellemared played a hit on Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner.
Bunting wanted to defend his teammate, and eventually himself, and started shoving Tampa Bay forward Anthony Cirelli. And that’s when one of the most bizarre moments of the season happened.
Linesman Dan Kelly suddenly interfered the scrum, and started pushing Bunting away from it. Kelly directed Bunting toward the Leafs’ locker room. Bunting wasn’t up for it, so Kelly had to push him with force into the doorway.
Bunting was real confused, and on video, you can tell that he said to Kelly, “What the f–k are you doing?” That was crazy.”
Kelly played for seven seasons in the AHL before being an official, so he’s played Bunting several times.
But afterward, Bunting made it clear that there’s nothing personal between them.
“No history, I mean, I probably have a history with everybody, no,” Bunting said, laughing.
Bunting also gave his views on what happened, and he said it’s just hockey.
“I think emotions just were high it’s hockey and you move on from it,” Bunting said. “It’s not really a big deal.”