The following material comes from notes I've collected for a book I'm writing about Roller Hockey International. I'll touch on the WRHL and PIHA, but the focus is on RHI, so I thought I'd show you all the WRHL materials I've got on hand. Hope it helps! It's a lot of stuff, so I'll have to separate it into three parts, I think.
EPSN to broadcast games of World Roller Hockey League (WRHL) starting in June 1993; 28 regular season games and best of 5 playoff series. Season starts April 29, games played at newly constructed roller hockey stadium on studio lot at Walt Disney World/MGM Studios in Orlando Florida. League founded by David McLane of Indianapolis, IN. His partner is Nick Buoniconti, former NFL linebacker of the Miami Dolphins and co-host of Inside the NFL on HBO, who helped secure the deal. Tryouts to start March 4, 1993 and continue in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando. Press conference scheduled for February 9, 1993.]
Street Hockey Magazine, April/May, 1993
The World Roller Hockey League (WRHL)
Roller Hockey’s Going to Disneyworld
By John Black
David McLane has inked a deal with ESPN and the Disney people to bring you a different variety of professional roller hockey. My latest information is that the league will operate from May 30, 1993, at Disneyworld in Orland, Fla. These dates are non-conflicting with RHI’s season. The eight-team league will feature a non-checking format with each team skating four players and a goalie. The games will be played on an outdoor arena with the floor being provided by Sport Court. The players were selected from tryout camps in Los Angeles, Orange County, Calif., Minnesota, New York and Orlando. The players will be flown to Orlando where they will receive free room and board at the Disney Contemporary Hotel. Players must remain at Disneyworld for the first week. Thereafter, the players may request to fly home and return for further games. A series of 33 games will be televised by ESPN beginning on July 21, including the best-of-five championship series. The WRHL is also planning a 10-city tour in July of 1993 which will involve clinics and exhibition games. The premier players from the WRHL season will be selected for the tour.
Street Hockey June/July ‘93
History in the Making
Professional Roller Hockey Hits the Big Time
By Jeff Alexander
McLane, an Indianapolis native and former professional wrestling promoter, has high expectations for the WRHL and the sport of roller hockey in general. “This is going to be the sport of the ‘90s,” McLane said. Murphy… also feels the sport and RHI will be a success. “We all know that roller hockey is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. and Canada,” Murphy said. “It’s just a matter of time before roller hockey is received as one of the leading professional sports in North America.”
Paul Chapey, Director of Player Development for the WRHL, said he chose players with years of roller hockey experience in amateur leagues. He also selected players having solid ice hockey experience in NCAA Division I and II, as well as semi-pro, International Hockey League or American Hockey League experience. Chapey feels the league and the sport of roller hockey will only get better by enhancing it with high quality players. “We’re going to expose it so the game looks great and creates interest,” he said. “Not only for the WRHL, but for RHI also.”
The idea for creating the WRHL first hit McLane nearly three years ago on a visit to Los Angeles, where he first heard about the sport. “I immediately thought it had the potential for being a national sport,” he said. “I wondered why someone hadn’t organized it yet to bring it to the professional level.”
McLane called his friend and co-founder of the league, former Miami Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti, who gave his approval. McLane then took his idea to the people at Walt Disney in Florida. He got an agreement from Disney to build the new roller hockey stadium on the MGM/Disney studio lot. John Story, Walt Disney World publicist, said the company likes what the sport has to offer. “Anytime that anyone comes to us with a legitimate televised project, we’re excited about it,” he said. “When we found out that it was going to be a clean sport, we said, ‘Hey, this is perfect for Disney.’ So we got on board.”
McLane then went out searching for television coverage. His search landed him with Steve Bornstein, president and chief executive officer of ESPN. The idea immediately delighted Bornstein, who signed a one-year contract with McLane for ESPN to cover all the games. As for long-term goals, McLane sees the sport and league becoming more and more popular. One reason he feels that audiences will pick up the sport is that it can be played outdoors and doesn’t require ice. Adding a tremendous boost to the sports’ rise in popularity will be the impact ESPN has on broadcasting the games world-wide through their satellite network. “We’re going to have a significant television market that will make everyone stand up and take notice,” McLane said.
The two leagues both stand firm on disallowing high-sticking and fighting of any kind. The WRHL has written into its rules the right to suspend a player or players from the league plus forfeit any potential financial earnings if the player choose to fight. There is also no blind-side checking allowed in the WRHL. Checking can only occur when a player is going for the puck and is initiating contact with the puck.
The WRHL games consist of three 12-minute periods while RHI’s games will have four 10-minute quarters.
Inline Hockey Central