I feel bad asking you some of these questions, because you and other pro players hear them all the time. Is it tiring to repeat those same messages about things that need to change and never seem to?
Yeah I think so. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting something to change. [Laughs.] It might be a little tiring, but if we don’t keep having these conversations, we’ll probably go back. And I think having these conversations maybe inspires other people to have these conversations and it reaches different people than people reached in the past. We want to have these conversations or we’re not going to see change.

Well said. Growing up in Belleville, how did you get interested in the game?
I think I started playing around the age of four or five. The Belleville Bulls were the OHL team that was there at the time and we had season tickets, and I was going with my dad and my grandfather. It was quite a special excursion, every Wednesday and Saturday was their home game and it was something I always looked forward to. I had a small Bulls bag that I would bring. I had a stuffed bull and a jersey. I even used to take statistics during the game. So I don’t know, maybe I was more of a nerd watching it, but it was such a fun experience.

Have you aspired to be a bull?
Yeah, I always thought, I want to play and I want to be as good as these guys. I remember looking up to them, thinking they were the coolest people in the world.

You also played basketball and ran competitively. Why did you finally choose hockey?
When I grew up, I saw that hockey could probably take me somewhere.

Where did you think it could take you?
There was a team called the East Coast Selects and they were looking and finding players in Ontario. I ended up going to Europe in 7th and 8th grade with them for a summer travel experience. We went to three different countries each year and there were girls from all over Ontario and a couple from the United States. It was like the first time I had been noticed somewhere outside of Belleville and I thought, Oh, that’s pretty cool, hockey could take me somewhere.

There was a girl named Jackie Jarrell, who is also from Belleville. She’s about 10 years older than me and she went to Mercyhurst and played Division 1 hockey there. So I saw her and I thought, Oh wow, can I get a scholarship somewhere.

My last year as a midget, I was offered to play in the junior league with Whitby and decided that I was going to stay and play a year in Belleville. [Editor’s note: With the Bearcats that season, Bunton put up 94 points in 51 games]. I was in grade 10 and I think it was probably one of the best decisions of my hockey career, because I ended up getting noticed by Team Canada that year. I was able to be a dominant player in Belleville instead of going to Whitby and maybe struggling to find myself.