2022 NHL Skills Competition Headlined By Pair Of Female Trailblazers

It was January of 2019 when Kendall Coyne Schofield broke new ground at the NHL All-Star Game. Named a participant for the skills competition in San Jose, the Olympic gold medalist recorded the fastest time in the speed skating portion of the event.

From end-to-end in just 14.346 seconds, it was right then and there she made her mark on a whole new audience. Making some new fans with her historic result, it was that very night the NHL found a new gold mine.

A gold mine in professional women’s hockey which houses the very best the sport has to offer. Joined that night by Brianna Decker, Renata Fast and Rebecca Johnston, they made a statement then and there to re-write the past and even the playing surface.

Now, just passed the three year mark since that moment, the National Hockey League is turning to the women once again. This time, as the event heads to Las Vegas, they have called on some legends in Manon Rheaume and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.

For both, Friday’s event marks a piece of history, something both are familiar with from their illustrious careers. Doing so under the NHL emblem, it shows how far the sport has come and just how much opportunity there is to give the women a platform.

Investing in their talent pool in 2019, it stood out to Rheaume, who now thirty years later has gotten the call for a second shot on an NHL stage.

“The NHL having provided that platform to them, I applaud that because that’s what the women’s game needs, that support,” the former backstop said.

If you circle back to September of 1992, Rheaume, a frequent flyer on RDS, became the first woman to play in an NHL game. Taking the ice for the Tampa Bay Lightning, she showed with passion and hard work that you can do anything you set your mind to.

This reigned especially true for her, using that historic moment to pave the path for those behind her. At the young age of 19-years-old, Rheaume was the only female playing on a junior boys hockey team in the QMJHL. While her tenure there didn’t last long, it was everything to follow which put her well on her way.

Getting her first shot on the national stage that season, Rheaume went on to win her first World Championship before dipping her feet into the ranks of professional hockey. Continuing to lead by example, the now 49-year-old made her pro debut with the IHL’s Atlanta Knights.

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Showing she was anything but ordinary, it was later that very season that her journey led her to Amalie Arena. Breaking boundaries and taking names, this led her to another three seasons, suiting up at various levels. As well, she appeared twice more internationally, winning another World Championship in 1993-94.

Being the original trail blazer for the sport, the Beauport, QC native acknowledges the invite as another step forward, using the platform to increase awareness and visibility. “Diversity in the organization helps to bring different perspectives, point of view, maybe even thinking outside of the box,” Rheaume told NHL.com. “When you can bring some of that, it’s very beneficial to [an] organization, instead of always having the same process or thinking. For myself, coaching those young girls, every time they see someone getting a job somewhere, I can just tell how much more they want to play the game knowing they have something at the end of it.

Still surrounded by hockey while residing in Detroit, Rheaume wears a number of hats, acting as the girls program coordinator and Head Coach of the Little Caesars 12-and-under girls team. She also works with Bally Sports Detroit as a member of the broadcast team on Detroit Red Wings telecasts.

28 years after competing with the Las Vegas Thunder, Rheaume returns to the strip to tend goal on the NHL stage. “It’s going to be fun,” Rheaume said Tuesday to NHL.com. “Obviously, I don’t expect to be stopping everything and things like this, but I’m going to have a lot of fun and those guys are amazing. I’m sure they’re going to come up with all kind of crazy breakaway things. It’s good for the game, for the NHL to showcase how great they are and I’m going to hope the puck touches me at some point.”

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Participating alongside her on Friday night in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition is USA Hockey icon Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson. For Lamoureux-Davidson, it’s the first time she’ll lace up the skates since announcing her retirement with her sister, Monique, nearly one year ago to date.

This is the second All-Star event that Jocelyne will partake in, last skating in San Jose in the first-ever Elite Women’s three-on-three event in 2020. Rather than competing in the Winter Olympics, she will instead lace up in two NHL All-Star events. Known as a leader with the U.S. National Women’s Team, the seven-time gold medalist will skate in the Discover NHL Fountain Face-Off, and will assist in the Honda NHL accuracy shooting contest.

Leading a decorated career that included three Olympics and seven World Championship appearances, Lamoureux-Davidson, since making her international debut, has continuously shown what it means to be a professional athlete.

Setting the standard with her pure talent and leadership, Lamoureux-Davidson always gave it her all, leaving no puck unturned throughout her 10 years with the National Program. Being named for the first time during her freshman year of college, the forward was quick to make a name for herself, one that has become household familiar across the globe the last 16 years.

Among her most memorable moments, the 32-year-old scored the game-winning shootout goal for the United States in a defeat of the Canadians at the 2018 gold medal game in Pyeongchang, South Korea. With Monique by her side through all the losses and triumphs, it’s only made her a better player who’s impact won’t be forgotten.

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Setting the tone for her hockey journey at the University of North Dakota, the centreman was named team captain in her sophomore season, a title she maintained for the remainder of her collegiate career. A three-time World Champion by that time, the right-handed shooter amassed 285 points, tallying 125 goals, while adding 160 assists.

Tacking on four more gold medals and three silvers from there, Jocelyne set the golden standard, leading on and off the ice, while proudly repping the stars and stripes.

Following an illustrious international tenure, Jocelyne and Monique began their next chapter in the sport, as both were elected board members with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association. 

Allowing them to take a step back and start their families, the two, in addition to raising their children, have collaborated on a new book titled “Dare To Make History.” Using the platform to reflect on their playing careers, the sisters remain heavily involved and are paving a path for the next generation.

Jocelyne and Manon both left behind a colourful legacy, and as leaders and role models, will look to leave the game they love the same way they set foot in it — with a flick of the wrist and a flash of the leather.

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