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This past weekend, Kendall Coyne Schofield became the first woman to participate in the NHL All-Star Skills competition. That’s pretty freaking cool. But reading about her accomplishment reminded me of something I read in a friend of mine’s masters thesis. She wrote about the first (and only) woman to play in the NHL, Manon Rhéaume.
In 1992, Manon Rhéaume signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightening as a goalie. She would appear in exhibition games in both 1992 and 1993; however, she never played in a regular season game. She also played for the Canadian women’s national hockey team winning gold at the world championships in 1992 and 1994 and the silver at the 1998 olympics. Not much is written about her accomplishments or her legacy. She now works on developing female hockey players and is the founder of the Manon Rhéaume Foundation.
Over the weekend, the NHL made history by inviting four of the premier women in the sport to take part in the NHL All-Star skills competition. Rebecca Johnston, Renata Fast, Kendall Coyne-Schofield and Brianna Decker all took part in different events. Decker would end up making headlines by having the fastest time (three seconds faster than the eventual winner Leon Draisaitl) while demonstrating how to do the passing event.
Draisaitl won a $25,000 cash prize for having the fastest event for the actual competitors, but social media exploded afterwards with the hashtag #PayDecker saying that Decker was the deserving winner of that prize money. Especially given the fact that Leon Draisaitl makes 9 million dollars a year compared to CWHL players that make between $2,000 and $10,000.
— Jayna Hefford (@J16H) January 26, 2019
In the end it was not Draisaitl nor the NHL that stepped up but rather CCM Hockey, to make things right.
— CCM Hockey (@CCMHockey) January 26, 2019
Time will tell if another female breaks into the NHL. But for now we must remember the one that did, and celebrate/promote women’s hockey as much as we can.