The Maple Leafs' Michael Bunting will have a hearing today with the Department of Player Safety for his hit to the head on Erik Cernak of the Lightning in game one of the playoffs.

The key points are:

  • Head contact
  • Erik Cernak does not have the puck
  • Erik Cernak didn't recently have the puck
  • Bunting was penalized with the most serious penalty at the time

The Department of Player Safety has to decide if the continuum of recklessness to intent that led to the hit is a point for or against Bunting.

There was no word last night on Cernak's condition (or anything certain on any of the other Lightning players who left the game)

Victor Hedman, Erik Cernak injuries leave Lightning blue line shorthanded
The Lightning lose two of their top defensemen in their Game 1 win over Toronto on Tuesday night.

There has not been a hearing in the playoffs so far, but the most recent suspension came a week ago:

This was an intentional and illegal hit on a player without the puck, but there was no head contact. Ryan Hartman's history over his entire NHL career was cited in the video. The player's recent history, or "repeat-offender" status, is used in a formulaic way to determine the amount of salary withheld when a player is suspended. But that has a cutoff date of 18 months. In a relatively recent change, Player Safety has been making note of the entire history of a player and taking it into account. There have been relatively few suspensions this season.

Bunting has not been fined or suspended this season. Last season, he was fined $2,000 for embellishment, the only supplementary discipline of his short NHL career.

However, this season Bunting has two 10-minute misconducts, one a game misconduct, one fighting major, and 39 minor penalties, including six unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and two for embellishment. Almost all of his penalties are aggressive penalties like rouging, not reactive  hooking/slashing/tripping. But he has become a main character with the referees with his diving and agitating, and now he's moved up a level to the people who see themselves as even more humourless than the in-game officials.

The Leafs set up their new lines at practice today with Matt Knies on Ryan O'Reilly's wing as the new third line. They are ready to play without Bunting. More on the new look tomorrow in the preview. But obviously Knies is getting a long look.