Remorseful over the shocking incident in which he dropped an opponent to the ice and punched him repeatedly in the head while prone, Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton apologized by sending a fruit basket.
Thornton attacked Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik in a game last Saturday night, forcing him down and raining blows directly on Orpik's skull. After the game, a sincere Thornton called his actions "a mistake" and this week arranged to send Orpik a selection of delicious produce to make up for it.
"I can't say I'm sorry enough," Thornton told reporters. "I hope sending Brooksie this fruit says it for me, whether he eats it all or throws it away."
Edible Arrangements "NHL I'm Sorry" Fruit Basket is a new product developed especially for professional hockey players. Designed to soften feelings after egregious offenses, dangerous plays and outrageously bad judgment, the basket is a replica hockey helmet filled with Edible Arrangements' signature blend of pears, grapes and apples. All the fruit is hand-selected and chilled to perfection, and can be shipped through a text message sent to a special NHL Players' Association's inbox.
"I sent Brooksie a text apologizing for my actions. Then I sent another text to order the fruit," said Thornton. "It's real easy to just do whatever I want on the ice, then send some fruit to say I'm sorry and get ready for the next game."
Saturday's Penguins-Bruins game was a volatile affair between two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. After Orpik laid a hit on Boston's Loui Eriksson that sent the Bruins forward to the dressing room, Thornton attempted to challenge Orpik to a fight, but ended up getting a roughing penalty when Orpik didn't accept. Later, Penguins winger James Neal drove his knee into the head of Boston's Brad Marchand while Marchand was down on the ice.
After the Neal hit, Thornton surprised Orpik, slew-footed him and hammered his jaw several times with his fists while Orpik lay on the ice motionless. Orpik was later removed from the game via a stretcher, and coach Dan Bylsma said he was diagnosed with a concussion.
Thornton said the fruit basket came from the heart.
"I skated with Brooksie during the lockout and I consider him a friend," Thornton said. "When I came up behind him, grabbed him by the neck, pulled him violently to the ice and started whaling on his face with my fists, I didn't mean to hurt him.
"I really hope he enjoys the fruit."
Edible Arrangements spokesman Percy Simmons said the "NHL I'm Sorry" basket was made with the players in mind. Injuries, fighting, concussions, intimidation and careless attempts to hurt one another are all parts of hockey, and apologizing for these misdeeds is another one of the unwritten rules players use to police the game.
"The basket is a great way to say, 'Hey, we're all just doing our jobs out there. Nothing personal,'" Simmons said. "Originally, the basket was supposed to contain grapefruit and kiwi. But the players complained that the acidic fruit bothered their facial injuries. It was also supposed to come with a dipping cup with strawberry sauce, but the NHL and NHLPA thought the sauce looked too much like blood, so we removed it."
Neal was suspended five games for his hit, but was undecided about sending an "NHL I'm Sorry" fruit basket to Marchand.
"As I said, I guess my knee got in the way. I didn't mean to hurt anyone," Neal said after the his suspension was issued. "But if the Bruins want to start handing out fruit baskets, then we're going to have to show them that two can play at that game."
This is satire. Edible Arrangements, a fine company with fine products, did not have anything to do with this. They also, to our knowledge, don't actually sell hockey helmets full of fruit.