In the heated NHL playoff series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Michael Bunting‘s controversial hit on defenseman Erik Cernak has drawn significant attention. After being suspended for three games as a result of the incident, Bunting has now made a statement regarding the hit.
Michael Bunting asserted that there was no intention to injure Cernak and expressed his respect for the Lightning defenseman. He mentioned that he reached out to Cernak via text, saying, “I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a great defenseman, he plays hard, he plays the game right. We’ve butted heads a few times. It’s very unfortunate what happened.”
As a result of the hit, Cernak has not yet returned to the Lightning’s lineup, and his absence has undoubtedly affected the team’s performance. The Maple Leafs currently lead the series 3-1 and are looking to close it out in Game 5, which will be held in Toronto.
Bunting is not being inserted back into the line-up by Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe after the Maple Leafs won all 3 games while Bunting was suspended.