Until this video, I had never heard of Georges Laraque, but it was hard not to be impressed with the guy after watching the interaction with his fellow combatant. How can you not appreciate someone who approaches a hockey fight while still minding his manners?

One thing I didn’t realize (perhaps naively) about Laraque was the racial struggle he often had to contend with while growing up as a black hockey player. It wasn’t easy, and the fact that he has silenced those who directed slurs and violence toward him and reached the NHL speaks volumes about the man’s character.

Laraque’s story is especially important now because it provides an example of just how far Jack Robinson’s story and influence have reached. Most of the talk leading up to tomorrow’s league-wide celebrations has been about the multitude of players wearing Robinson’s number 42 and the dearth of African-Americans in the major leagues, but the important thing to remember is what exactly Jack’s arrival in Brooklyn meant to EVERYONE who has been forced to deal with hatred and intolerance. (Although it’s ironic that Robinson wasn’t allowed to fight back when taunted about his race – at least not initially – while the sport Laraque plays allows him to beat the crap out of anyone stupid enough to throw a slur his way.)