The Tampa Bay Lightning today announced the opening of fan voting for their Top 25 Favorite Bolts of All-Time. The top 25 vote receivers will be invited to join the festivities for the Lightning’s final regular season home game of the year on April 6th against the Buffalo Sabres.
Going through the list, there are a lot of recognizable names from the current roster and from years past. The list goes alphabetically from Dmitry Afansenkov all the way down to Rob Zamuner. Literally A-Z. When you get to the end, you’re asked to fill in your name, address, and some other information to submit your ballot. What they also give you is an optional write-in vote.
And I have a suggestion for who you should write-in: Manon Rheaume.
Sure, she’s not officially a former Lightning player. But it’s close enough that it counts. She was the first woman to ever suit up for an NHL pre-season game. And she didn’t do it just once, but twice for the Lightning in the 1992 and 1993 pre-seasons.
How awesome would it be to recognize her and what she accomplished with the Lightning? Many people at the time dismissed her signing as a publicity stunt and nothing more for the expansion Lightning. But those same people seem to forget that Rheaume was a fantastic goaltender in her own right.
She played a game in the QMJHL for the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs in the 1991-92 season. She played two games for the Atlanta Knights in the IHL becoming the first woman to play a regular season game in a men’s professional league. She continued to play professional games in men’s leagues through the 1996-97 season playing 24 professional games, before a one game appearance in the IHL in 2008-09. How many goaltenders, male or female, can say that?
Not only that, but she won the Women’s World Championship gold medal with Team Canada twice and won a silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics. And she was spectacular in that Olympics putting up a .944 SV% and 0.87 GAA.
But really... how awesome would it be to have her back in Tampa for a game, for fans to appreciate her accomplishments in the world of hockey?
Consider Manon Rheaume to be included in the Top-25 All-Time Bolts vote.
Below is my personal list that I voted for.
Dave Andreychuk, Dan Boyle, Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle, Brian Bradley, Dino Ciccarelli, Jassen Cullimore, Steve Downie, Ruslan Fedotenko, Chris Gratton, Roman Hamrlik, Victor Hedman, Nikolai Khabibulin, Chris Kontos, Pavel Kubina, Nikita Kucherov, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Fredrik Modin, Brayden Point, Vinny Prospal, Brad Richards, Paul Ranger, Daren Puppa, Steven Stamkos, Manon Rheaume.