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Part 4: Rh?aume's appearance still inspires others

by Arpon Basu

On Sept. 23, 1992, Manon Rhéaume became the first woman to play in any of the major professional North American sports leagues when she appeared for a period in an exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues.

On this 20th anniversary of her historic game, takes a look back at one of hockey's most unforgettable moments through the eyes of people who lived it.

Part 4: Rhéaume's legacy lives on

Manon Rhéaume, Tampa Bay goaltender

"After that, as far as reflecting on the importance of that game, how it would affect my life, how it would affect other people's lives -- I had no clue. It just went so fast. I had to face the media; I've never seen so many media for one hockey game. The questions started fine, but eventually they just got silly and people were just looking for things to be negative about. After that, it was just surreal, because it was everywhere. You turn the channel and you see yourself on TV, you're getting phone calls, you're getting more fan mail. I don't think I ever really had a time where I could reflect on that game after that."

Cammy Clark, Lightning beat writer, St. Petersburg Times (currently with Miami Herald)


Part 1: Shattering the gender barrier

By Arpon Basu - Managing Editor
Twenty years ago, Manon Rhéaume became the first woman to play in a major-league game, appearing in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning during the NHL preseason. Her impact is felt to this day.

"It was an incredible time. You have to remember, she was the first woman to do this in any of the major sports, so it was a little bit of a breakthrough. Even though everybody knew it was a publicity stunt, it gave a lot of little girls around the country some hope. I think it was good for women, it was good for the team, and for Manon, she didn't embarrass herself. If it had been a complete embarrassment, then it would have been a fiasco, but she did well for herself."

Kim St-Pierre, Canadian national women's team goaltender, who was 13 at time of Rhéaume's NHL appearance

"Back then I was playing with the boys, I didn't even know women's hockey existed. I just wanted to play in the NHL and I didn't know much about women's hockey players around the world, or even in Canada or Quebec. So when I started hearing stories and seeing Manon in the news I got so excited. It was kind of a wake-up call that I wasn't the only one doing this. Seeing that she was getting an invitation to an NHL training camp definitely made me believe that it was something that was possible. Before that, I was dreaming of the NHL, but actually seeing a girl being invited and playing in a game, it made a big difference in my career."

Basil McRae, Tampa Bay forward

"My daughter's a freshman at St. Lawrence University; she got a full scholarship to [play] Division 1 hockey. So I like to think that Manon Rhéaume played a part in that.

"Personally, as someone who was involved in that, it was a great experience and I tip my hat to Manon. She was a goalie, but she encouraged a lot of girls to play hockey, and my daughter, and us, as parents, are benefactors of that."


"Today, when I look back at things, I can't believe how crazy I was to have done that! I cannot believe I went through it, that I had the guts at that young age to just go for it.

"I think it impacted girls' hockey, and young girls and females in general who wanted to accomplish something but people were saying no to them because of the stereotype that girls can't do those things. Not just in hockey, but women lawyers, doctors, whatever. A lot of people have to face those things in their own fields when it's not supposed to be dominated by women. I don't think I necessarily opened the door for those women, but maybe it gave them the hope that they can accomplish something in their own fields even if it's more male-oriented. I think that's the impact that game had, impacting those young girls."

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