"Not surprised": Keefe thinks refs have it out for Leafs' Bunting

Apr 3 2023, 4:51 pm

Put on your tin foil hats: there’s another conspiracy involving the Toronto Maple Leafs and their treatment from the NHL.

In the second period of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, a 5-2 loss for Toronto, Leafs forward Michael Bunting was assessed both a two-minute penalty for embellishment after receiving a series of cross-checks, and then later was given a 10-minute misconduct by the officials while skating away from a scrum and kicking one of his opponent’s sticks along the ice.

And while his coach might not have been the biggest fan of the calls, he likened it to a recent trend against Bunting.

“Surprised? I mean, based on the way that he has been officiated of late, I am not surprised at all,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said about Bunting’s treatment. “He eats three cross-checks, and he ends up taken to the box with it. He had four or five punches to the face in the scrum, and he ends up with a 10-minute misconduct.”

But while Keefe isn’t exactly a fan of the officials or how they’ve treated Bunting, he says it’s more on Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas to raise his voice to the NHL.

“Bunts has to do his best to stay on the line. In terms of how he has been officiated, Kyle [Dubas] will deal with that with the league,” Keefe added. “It is tough for him. He has to find his way through that.”

While Bunting has taken more penalties than last season (38 to 32), he’s still at a net positive when it comes to how many he’s drawn, as per Sportsnet’s Luke Fox.

Keefe, who was fined $25,000 for ā€œdemeaning conduct directed at the officialsā€ back in a December game against St. Louis, reiterated that it’s not exactly Bunting’s problem to solve how the referees call his player.

“Kyle will deal with the other stuff and see what we can get done there. Bunts has to be able to stay focused and keep playing,” Keefe added.

The Leafs return to home ice tomorrow, when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7 pm ET.

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