“I walked into the [first players’ meeting] and I looked around. Those big players were just sitting there and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, what am I doing here?’”
Her luggage had been lost by the airline, so GM Phil Esposito sent her to borrow clothes from his daughter. Unfortunately, she was smaller than Manon, so the shorts Manon wore for fitness testing were uncomfortably tight and short.
“I was so embarrassed. Every time I would meet one of the players I told them, ‘this is not me!’, but the media was there and they were taking pictures of all that. That was a really hard first day.”
Rheaume only expected to be with the Lightning for a week, but instead she played one period of an exhibition game on September 23, 1992, making her the first woman to suit up for an NHL game.
“I think the most important thing that came out of it is that I was able to make a positive impact on lots of young girls, and that made me feel good. To this day I think that is my best memory of the whole experience – how I was able to impact young girls and show them that they can achieve their goals and dreams.”