Give Inline Hockey a Try!

Inline skates became popular in the 80s.

Scott and Brennan Olson, brothers from Minnesota, are usually credited with restarting roller hockey in the U.S. After finding an old pair of 60s vintage roller skates with wheels in a straight line instead of the 2×2 quad design, they saw the chance for off-season practice. Their efforts ultimately resulted in “rollerblade” inline skates in 1984. 

The Olson brothers’ Rollerblade skates possess high-wear polyurethane skate wheels and excellent ball bearings which radically enhanced the skates’ performance over the slower and more hard -to-maneuver quad skate. Rollerblade skates were clean turning, fast, and smooth. By the late 80s, inline skating had blown up, although first as a form of exercise.

Lucky for brothers Olson, at that same time, ice hockey pro-Wayne Gretzky was at the top of his greatness, reigning the sport, accumulating legendary stats, and getting large television audiences. When the L.A. Kings got Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers, southern Cali had a new hero who encouraged kids to take up street hockey. Soon enough, the streets of sunny Southern California were filled with rollerbladers right beside the ubiquitous skateboarders.

This phenomenon was not lost on the NHL. Soon other nice weather markets like Dallas, San Jose, Anaheim, and Tampa Bay were creating professional ice hockey teams. The league growth of pro-level franchises into warm-weather territories, linked with the increasing popularity of inline skating, turned out to be a chance mix for roller hockey. By the mid-90s, roller hockey had again taken off in the US with national competitions and numerous leagues.

Roller hockey, while popular worldwide, has had an up-and-down history in the USA, although its popularity is increasing. Given the substantial exposure the NHL has, and the general popularity of inline skating or Rollerblading, inline roller hockey will continue to rise like any exciting and quick-moving sport should.

Roller Hockey Defined (Part II)

Roller hockey began in England in the Late 1800s.

Though roller skates were created in 1760 by John Joseph Merlin, the first roller hockey was probably played in England in 1878 at the Denmark Roller Rink in London. Some sources state that “roller skate hockey” was first played in Kent, England. It didn’t any time for roller hockey to catch on and grow. 

By the 1880s, leagues, and rules of play expanded in cities throughout America’s Midwest. The initial games were played on quad skates and the players utilized curved sticks called “canes,” like today’s field hockey sticks. Team play was made up of players attempting to shoot a roller hockey puck or hockey ball into the goal. The team with the highest number of goals won the game.

Roller Hockey’s Future

In 1924, the Roller Sports Federation was created, and its aim was to standardize and rule international play, with yearly world championships beginning in 1936. Since then, roller hockey has achieved popularity all around the globe. But roller hockey history in America hasn’t been one long breakaway. In fact, roller hockey’s attractiveness has fallen and risen. In 1991, roller hockey turned pro with the establishment of Roller Hockey International, which consists of teams around the U.S. complete with talented local amateurs and retired ice hockey professionals. 

Different high-profile exhibition games at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, particularly though it was called “rink hockey,” gave the sport real exposure. By 1994, the RHI league had 24 teams. Since then, sadly, leagues have dropped teams faster than pre-fight gloves. Presently, roller hockey is still vastly played on both inline and quad skates and has popularity from Africa to Europe to the Americas.

Roller hockey, as stated, has been an exhibition sport at the Olympics and enjoys global participation in the Roller Hockey World Cup, luring competitive teams from Italy, England, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Argentina. Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Argentina are the major powers.