Monday, November 28 2022
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 04: Manon Rheaume, the first woman to play goalie in an NHL game, looks on during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition Presented by DraftKings Sportsbook as part of the Honda NHL All-Star Weekend on February 4, 2022 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Manon Rheaume, the first woman to play goalie in an NHL game, looks on during the NHL All-Star skills competition during the NHL All-Star weekend Feb. 4 in Las Vegas. (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Playing goal was as natural to Manon Rheaume as breathing.

She didn’t intend to be the only girl on her youth teams, the first girl to play in the famed Quebec International Pee Wee tournament and the first girl to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. There weren’t many options for girls to play hockey in the 1980s and 1990s. She had to compete against boys if she wanted to play at all, and she was determined to play.

She also didn’t intend to make history, but she couldn’t say no when the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning invited her to their training camp after she had helped Canada win gold at the 1992 women’s world championships. She played one period of an exhibition for Tampa Bay against St. Louis on Sept. 23, 1992, becoming the first — and still only — woman to suit up for an NHL game.

“I never even thought I would even play in the NHL. It wasn’t even a dream of mine,” said Rheaume, who played one period of an exhibition against Boston a year later and spent several seasons playing in men’s minor leagues. “I just happened to stumble into it.”

Thirty years later, she has made it to the NHL. Not in uniform but as a member of the Kings’ player development department, one of many accomplished women who have been hired for meaningful roles on NHL teams the past few years. Rheaume, mother to hockey-playing sons Dylan St. Cyr, 23, and Dakoda Rheaume-Mullen, 15, joins a staff that also includes scout Blake Bolden, the first Black woman to play in the now-defunct National Women’s Hockey League.

It’s not that teams and leagues are becoming “woke.” They’ve belatedly realized admitting women into their stale, restricted old boys’ club adds knowledge, perspective and experiences that can invigorate the sport.

Rheaume’s sons had participated in summer camps in Los Angeles and she knew Kings President Luc Robitaille through charity work and mutual friends. Their conversations took a serious turn when she indicated she wanted to work for a team after spending years organizing successful girls’ hockey programs in Michigan and doing analysis for RDS, a French-language TV network in Canada.

Robitaille recognized a fit. “I personally find, same with Blake Bolden, that these girls are overachievers. They work really hard, and when you get them in your organization, they bring that attitude,” he said. “It’s amazing to see. To me, I think there’s huge value.

“Manon, with her background and how much work she had to do and fighting against adversity to get to the level she got, there’s certainly a lot that could be taught to those young players.”

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Manon Rheaume uses her glove to make a save during her professional debut.Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Manon Rheaume uses her glove to make a save during her professional debut.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Manon Rheaume uses her glove to make a save during her professional debut against the St. Louis Blues on Sept. 23, 1992, in Tampa, Fla. Rheaume was the first woman to play in one of four major pro sports leagues. She gave up two goals in one period of work. (Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

Rheaume, 50, isn’t replacing goaltending guru Bill Ranford. Her title is player operations/prospect advisor. She watched the Kings’ prospects during training camp, building relationships she will reinforce by visiting them when they’re with their junior team. She also participated in a Special Olympics ball hockey clinic, and Robitaille plans to feature her in community and women’s hockey-focused events this season.

Working with the Kings’ young players is ideal for Rheaume, who was familiar with many of them from tournaments her sons played in.

“It’s really meeting our draft picks and getting to know them and see if I can see or feel something about those players. More like as a mom,” she said. “Having two kids that play, I know when things go wrong, they call me. I don’t know if it’s easier to talk with me than their dad. I feel like I’m bringing that side of it.”

She never imagined having this job because there were no women in positions of great responsibility in hockey. But as she inspired little girls — and little boys — to follow their dreams, she can now inspire them to look beyond the rink toward careers in the game.

Manon Rheaume smiles after saving a shot on goal from Vegas Golden Knights forward Alex Pietrangelo.Manon Rheaume smiles after saving a shot on goal from Vegas Golden Knights forward Alex Pietrangelo.

Manon Rheaume, the first woman to play goalie in an NHL game, smiles after saving a shot on goal from Vegas Golden Knights forward Alex Pietrangelo during the NHL All-Star skills competition on Feb. 4, 2022, in Las Vegas. (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

She’s in good company. The Vancouver Canucks employ two female assistant general managers, Hockey Hall of Famer Cammi Granato and former college player Emilie Castonguay. Standout U.S. Olympian Meghan Duggan is director of player development for the New Jersey Devils, where Kate Madigan is the assistant GM. Meghan Hunter is an assistant GM for the Chicago Blackhawks, who hired Kendall Coyne Schofield as a player development coach. Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser, who has a place in the Hall of Fame and a medical degree, is an assistant GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Alexandra Mandrycky, a data specialist, is an assistant GM of the Seattle Kraken.

“All those women that played at a high level, even if they don’t make it to the NHL, they’re able to contribute to an NHL team in a different way with their ideas and their knowledge of the game,” Rheaume said.

Could a woman play in the NHL? Coyne Schofield and others have excelled in skills contests at NHL All-Star weekend but they didn’t have defenders lining them up when they competed. “They’re very skilled. Let’s say we put that in a body-checking situation — it’s a little different,” Rheaume said.

“You can ask me, could I have played in the NHL way back then? Doing a training camp is one thing. Doing a full year, facing those shots, I was bruised all over after a week. Physically, I didn’t have the same strength as a man possessed.

“But I cannot say that a woman could never play there, because you never know. You could have a woman that’s super strong, super fast, or a female goaltender that is big and very agile and can play at that level. Nobody thought I would be able to do it in camp, so that’s why I would never say no.”

Because she said no to those who doubted her so many years ago, other women have had the opportunity to say yes to significant roles in a game that can’t be for everyone if it doesn’t let everyone have a say in its present and its future.  

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Source: Yahoo Sports

Previous

NHL predictions: Will Avalanche repeat? Experts make their picks for the 2022-23 season

Next

Aaron Judge breaks American League record for most home runs in a season

Check Also

Pro Sports Media

Trending Now

Bucks vs. Mavericks: How to watch NBA online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

Who’s Playing Dallas @ Milwaukee Current Records: Dallas 9-9; Milwaukee 13-5 What to Know The Dallas Mavericks might have tired legs after a game yesterday as they head on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks at 8 p.m. ET Nov. 27 at Fiserv Forum. Milwaukee should still be riding high after a win, while the […]

Read More

Live Chat: South Florida vs. Southeast Missouri

BullsInsider – Live Chat: South Florida vs. Southeast Missouri PHNjcmlwdD4KICAoZnVuY3Rpb24odyxkLHMsbCxpKXsKICAgICAgICBpZiAo d2luZG93Ll9kaWRBc3luY0luamVjdEdvb2dsZVRhZ01hbmFnZXIpIHJldHVy bjsKICAgICAgICB3W2xdPXdbbF18fFtdO3dbbF0ucHVzaCh7J2d0bS5zdGFy dCc6CiAgICAgICAgbmV3IERhdGUoKS5nZXRUaW1lKCksZXZlbnQ6J2d0bS5q cyd9KTt2YXIgZj1kLmdldEVsZW1lbnRzQnlUYWdOYW1lKHMpWzBdLAogICAg ICAgIGo9ZC5jcmVhdGVFbGVtZW50KHMpLGRsPWwhPSdkYXRhTGF5ZXInPycm bD0nK2w6Jyc7ai5hc3luYz10cnVlO2ouc3JjPQogICAgICAgICdodHRwczov L3d3dy5nb29nbGV0YWdtYW5hZ2VyLmNvbS9ndG0uanM/aWQ9JytpK2RsKycm Z3RtX2F1dGg9JysnS2hINmhlQ3BvV0pVSG5xVnpkRWE3dycrCiAgICAgICAg JyZndG1fcHJldmlldz0nKydlbnYtMScrJyZndG1fY29va2llc193aW49eCc7 Zi5wYXJlbnROb2RlLmluc2VydEJlZm9yZShqLGYpOwogICAgICAgIHdpbmRv dy5fZGlkQXN5bmNJbmplY3RHb29nbGVUYWdNYW5hZ2VyID0gdHJ1ZTsKICAg ICAgfSkod2luZG93LGRvY3VtZW50LCdzY3JpcHQnLCdkYXRhTGF5ZXInLCdH VE0tTUY2UFhYQycpOwo8L3NjcmlwdD4KPG5vc2NyaXB0Pgo8aWZyYW1lIGhl aWdodD0nMCcgc3JjPSdodHRwczovL3d3dy5nb29nbGV0YWdtYW5hZ2VyLmNv bS9ucy5odG1sP2lkPUdUTS1NRjZQWFhDJmFtcDtndG1fYXV0aD1LaEg2aGVD cG9XSlVIbnFWemRFYTd3JmFtcDtndG1fcHJldmlldz1lbnYtMSZhbXA7Z3Rt X2Nvb2tpZXNfd2luPXgnIHN0eWxlPSdkaXNwbGF5Om5vbmU7dmlzaWJpbGl0 eTpoaWRkZW4nIHdpZHRoPScwJz48L2lmcmFtZT4KPC9ub3NjcmlwdD4KCgo= You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to use Rivals.com Join the team! Subscribe PGRpdiBjbGFzcz0ncmEtY29udGFpbmVyIGRpc3Ryb19hZCc+CjxkaXYgY2xh c3M9J3ZpZGVvLWFkLXdyYXBwZXInPgo8c2NyaXB0IGFzeW5jIHNyYz0nLy9j LmpzcmRuLmNvbS9zL2NzLmpzP3A9MjI1NDYnIHR5cGU9J3RleHQvamF2YXNj cmlwdCc+PC9zY3JpcHQ+CjxkaXYgY2xhc3M9J3ZpZGVvLWNvbnRhaW5lcicg aWQ9J2RzX2RlZmF1bHRfYW5jaG9yJz48L2Rpdj4KPC9kaXY+CjwvZGl2PgoK {{ timeAgo(‘2022-11-07 17:55:00 -0600’) }} […]

Read More