The perceived contradiction of the hockey enforcer — stone-hard of fist and skull but so often soft-spoken, funny and introspective — is not really a contradiction at all.

It’s actually such an overwhelming consensus that the real surprise comes when a tough guy does not also come across as a nice guy.

Shawn Thornton was the quintessential example of the articulate and generous punching machine during his seven season with the Bruins, during which he scored 34 goals and racked up 708 penalty minutes.

Thornton’s tally of thoughtful insights and gestures during his time here was far closer to his penalty minute total than his goal total. He’s a Florida Panther now, of course, where the reporters — presuming media is plural in that hockey hotbed — are at least as grateful for his arrival as the franchise’s skill players.

Thornton’s successor — or, his would-be successor who passed his first real audition last night — is an extreme example of the norm proving the rule.

Bobby Robins’s remarkable story was already familiar to Bruins fans before last night’s 2-1 victory over the Flyers in the season opener last night at TD Garden, which also happened to be his NHL debut.

Robins became something of a cult hero before he ever played an official game for the black-and-gold. His hilarious, relentless trash-talking of the Capitals’ Jason Chimera after a preseason bout made him a breakout star of “Behind the B.”

The hosts of the Toucher and Rich morning show enhanced his profile by talking about his engaging, candid blog, his long journey (11 non-NHL stops since turning pro out of UMass-Lowell in 2005-06), and openly rooting for him to make the team.

Against the odds — did we mention he turns 33 in eight days, or that he scored 9 goals and piled up 537 penalty …read more