Q&A With WRHL President David McLane
Talk of starting a professional roller hockey league might have sounded like lunacy to hockey purists. This wouldn’t be real hockey, and why would people pay to see it?

But World Roller Hockey President and founder David McLane believed roller hockey would be a fast and exciting sport that people would want to watch. And he found plenty of people who believed he was right.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of starting a professional roller hockey league?

A: While living in Los Angeles in 1990, I observed a man standing on inline roller skates in his driveway hitting a ball against a garage door with a hockey stick. I was so taken by this act that I backed my car into the gentleman’s driveway and asked him what he was playing. After questioning him, I asked him if roller hockey games were presented on television, would he watch? His reply was the reason I started the WRHL.

Q: You were able to get ESPN to broadcast the entire WRHL season and play-off series. How were you able to go from your original idea to actually forming the league?

A: It is important to understand that to successfully start the WRHL and get the league to the point where it now enjoys the broadcasting of games on ESPN, including sponsorship by Franklin Sports, and Coca Cola’s PowerAde along with having the games hosted at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park, it took the endless help of many people. First, a family friend, the founding partner of the Florida law firm Adorno & Zeder, Jon Zeder, introduced me to former All-Pro NFL linebacker Nick Buoniconti. After sharing my concept with Nick, he introduced me to the President of ESPN, Steven Bornstein. Through Nick’s efforts, and Mr. Bornstein’s belief in the concept, ESPN agreed to take a shot and broadcast the first season of the WRHL.

Q: How did Franklin Sports become involved and what were their feelings about the WRHL’s first year.

A: Franklin Sports actually called the WRHL after the league was officially announced by Walt Disney World in February 1993. When you want to talk about true visionaries, real pioneers, guys that are willing to invest in dreams, I suggest you interview the people of Franklin Sports and the company’s president, Larry Franklin. When I met with Larry Franklin, I was immediately taken with his ability to see the future of roller hockey. Larry understood the dynamics of what the WRHL could be and Larry was willing to step up to the plate and invest in the WRHL. I think Franklin is more than pleased with the inaugural season of the WRHL. Like all of us, Franklin was able to learn a lot about the specific needs of the world’s best roller hockey players.

Q: Was the level of play what you had expected?

A: From viewing the WRHL tryouts, I knew that the level of play was going to be top notch. I was particularly impressed with the level of preparation by the selected WRHL players. I anticipated some potential problems with players overheating and dehydration in the Florida heat. But, to the players credit, no one suffered terribly from the extreme heat, which reached over 100 degrees at times on the playing surface. The players were undoubtedly conditioned beyond that of typical athletes.

What I found interesting in watching the games was that players with former professional ice hockey experience did not necessarily have a playing advantage over the players that had exclusively played roller hockey. This observation illustrated that, although ice and roller hockey are similar, roller hockey is an exciting game that will develop over the next few years with the marquee players that have played roller hockey exclusively.