Today’s guest on Mitlin Money Mindset™ is “The First Woman of Hockey™”, Manon Rhéaume. Manon has quite the resume and at the top of the list is being the first and only female to play in an NHL game, which she did for Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992. She was the first female to sign a contract to play professional hockey and had a six-year professional career in the minor leagues.
As a member of Team Canada, Manon led the team to a silver medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Nagano, the first year that women’s hockey was an official Olympic sport. Talk about breaking barriers in sports, Manon smashed through them! She was a pioneer in paving the way for women in professional sports and now she is sharing her experiences and helping girls everywhere realize they can do it as well. She’s doing that through her book, Breaking the Ice, and she’s currently working on a feature-length biopic Between the Pipes outlining her journey to the NHL. I am always excited to talk with people who have helped the game of hockey and Manon is one of those that’s had a huge impact.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…
- Manon’s path to the NHL [2:48]
- Did Manon think she could make it to the NHL? [4:34]
- The impact Manon’s story has had on hockey [9:31]
- How hockey is becoming more inclusive? [11:57]
- Women opening doors with their abilities and not their gender [13:11]
- Adversity is a good thing, being a hockey parent and coach [18:59]
- The lockerroom message Coach Manon is giving to her U12 girls [24:30]
- A little about the book & movie about Manon [27:11]
- The Manon Rhéaume Foundation [29:38]
- What Manon did today that put her in the right mindset for success? [32:06]
The impact of one woman’s story on an entire sport
When Manon was 11 one of the questions the media asked her was “Can you see a girl playing in the NHL one day?” and to this, she said, “Yeah, if nobody stopped her!” When she went to Tampa Bay she didn’t realize the impact her story would have, she just went because she was given an amazing opportunity and she wanted to go for it.
But years later parents would come up to her and tell her what an inspiration she was to their children, and not just the daughters. Mike McKenna, who played in the NHL, interviewed Manon for a podcast and he said, when he saw her there, in the NHL, he thought to himself, if a woman can do it, I can too! That’s when Manon realized just how big her story was. Check out the episode to hear more about the impact Manon had across the league!
Making it on merit, not just gender
When a woman does something like this in a male sport, people think it’s because there’s a woman movement and the teams need more women in different positions in the organization. They don’t talk about the performance or how good those women are. Manon dealt with this in ‘92 when people talked about her being a publicity stunt for the new Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team. They’d say the team was just looking to sell tickets. It was hard for Manon to hear.
What they didn’t mention were things like the camp mini-tournament where she was the only goalie out of 4 that did not allow any goals or that she finished top 3 of 8 goalies. When they decided to put her in an exhibition game, it’s because she earned it. It would be 20 years later that Head Coach Terry Crisp told Manon that when he was told there would be a woman, he wasn’t happy with it, but that she did earn her spot because she did so well at camp. Manon said that was a very cool thing to hear.
Let your children face adversity, it’s good for them
Manon thinks the biggest thing for her, the reason she made it to where she did, is that her dad never tried to protect her from adversity. Adversity is the best thing that your kids can go through. If you want them to get stronger and you want them to have all the tools to be successful in college and in life, going through adversity is the best thing. Often parents want to know that their kid’s going to make the team before tryouts. They don’t want to see their kids sitting on the bench. They want everything perfect for their kids so they are smiling every single day and never face anything hard. That’s just not the reality in sports or in life.
Manon’s dad let her go to three years of tryouts when he knew she had no chance to make the team. He saw the reaction that she had when she didn’t make the team and how she became more motivated to prove people wrong. Manon said that was really good for her. The open door for Manon may have come by chance but the hard work and effort that won her the spot was all HER because every time she faced adversity she would work harder to be a better player and that paid off.
Resources & People Mentioned
- New book Breaking the Ice
- Between the Pipes movie
- The Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament
Connect with Manon Rhéaume
Manon Rhéaume, the first and only female to play in an NHL game with the Tampa Bay Lightning, in 1992. She also was the first female to sign a contract to play professional hockey and had a six-year professional career in the minor leagues.
As a member of Team Canada, Manon helped lead her team to win two gold medals at the World Championship and a Silver Medal at the Olympics in the 1998 Nagano Games – the first-year women’s hockey was an official sport in the Olympics.
Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.