Scrums are widespread within the NHL with gamers stepping into shoving matches usually all through the course of a sport. It is much less widespread to see an official become involved too, which is what linesman Dan Kelly did to Toronto Maple Leafs ahead Michael Bunting on Tuesday night time.
During the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, a late hit on Mitch Marner by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on the finish of the primary interval created a scuffle. Bunting got here to the protection of his teammate and appeared prepared to tackle each Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli.
Kelly pulled Bunting away from the confrontation earlier than the scenario escalated, however he did somewhat greater than that. Kelly escorted Bunting to the door and shoved him off the ice, and Bunting nearly fell backward as he tripped over the boards.
At the time, Bunting was clearly greatly surprised by Kelly’s aggressiveness. However, Bunting had cooled off by the point he was requested about it in his postgame press convention.
“I simply assume feelings have been excessive,” Bunting mentioned. “It’s hockey, and you progress on from it. Not actually a giant deal.”
Bunting additionally mentioned it was not the primary time he had crossed paths with Kelly. Before breaking by way of with the Maple Leafs final yr, Bunting spent plenty of time within the AHL, the place he performed towards Kelly.
“Yeah, I performed towards him within the minors,” Bunting mentioned. “Yeah, I did. No historical past there. Well, I most likely have historical past with everybody.”
Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe echoed Bunting’s sentiment and mentioned it wasn’t the primary time he has seen an official get extra assertive with a participant.
“Yeah, I’ve,” Keefe mentioned. “It occurs. It’s an emotional sport.”
The NHL has not issued a public assertion about Kelly, who’s in his third season as an official within the AHL and NHL.
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