Born February 24, 1972 (age 39) in Lac-Beauport, Quebec, Canada
No, you didn’t misread that. Today we are doing something very special and spotlighting a true hockey legend. Rhéaume has shown the naysayers that women are just as worthy as men when it comes to being on the ice. It all started in 1991 when she was signed to the QMJHL’s Trois-Rivières Draveurs, becoming the first woman to play in a men’s Junior A level game. She tried out for the Tampa Bay Lightning the next year and got on with them as a free agent, the first time a woman tried out for an NHL team and signed a pro contract. With the Lightning, she played expo games against St. Louis and Boston.
1992 also marked the start of Rhéaume’s time with the now-defunct International Hockey League. She started out with the Atlanta Knights, the reason Thrashers fans would shout out the word “knights” instead of “night” during the line “gave proof through the night” in the national anthem. (I’ve decided to keep doing that as a tribute and am happy to report I did it during my college commencement ceremony.) Her first appearance was the first time a woman appeared in a regular season pro-level game.
Over the next five years, she played with seven IHL teams: the Knights, the Knoxville Cherokees, the Nashville Knights, the Las Vegas Aces, the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, the Las Vegas Thunder and the Reno Renegades. During her time here in Atlanta, she wrote an autobiography, Manon: Alone In Front Of The Net. She announced her retirement from pro hockey in 1997. Do note that it was at this time in her career that she was asked to pose for Playboy–and she refused.
In 1999-2000, she served as goaltending coach for the University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s team. She did three years as marketing director for Mission Hockey, promoting equipment for girls and women, plus marketing for Milwaukee’s Powerade Iceport and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
But in 2008, the net called out to her again, and again with a new version of the IHL. The Port Huron Icehawks invited Rhéaume to training camp and said she’d be in at least one period of the team’s expo home opener. She also suited up for a game with the IHL’s Flint Generals in April 2009 and had been with their practice team since January, filling in for the regular goalie. Better yet, she was the third woman to play for the Generals. Also in 2009, she played for the women’s pro-level Minnesota Whitecaps. They defeated the Calgary Oval X-treme twice out of three meetings, snapping a two-year regular-season winning streak, and Rheaume helped lead them to the Clarkson Cup finals. Last year, she played in the 50th anniversary legends game for the Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament.
Rhéaume also represented Canada in the 1992 and 1994 Women’s Worlds, getting golds at both of them, and took home the silver at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. She has a son, Dylan, and has the Manon Rhéaume Foundation to help young girls realize their hockey dreams. In a sport that is still often so full of sexism–see how the Sedin twins have been called “two girls, no cup” and how in much of society, feminine is the undesirable quality–Rhéaume has helped to prove that women are awesome too.