Roller Hockey International

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Roller Hockey International
SportInline hockey
Founded1992; 32 years ago (1992)
FounderDennis Murphy
Ralph Backstrom
Larry King
First season1993; 31 years ago (1993)
Ceased2001; 23 years ago (2001)
CountriesUnited States
St. Louis Vipers
Most titlesAnaheim Bullfrogs (2)

Roller Hockey International was a professional inline hockey league that operated in North America from 1993 to 1999. It was the first major professional league for inline hockey.[1][2]


League president Dennis Murphy had been involved in the establishment of the American Basketball Association, World Hockey Association and World TeamTennis. RHI hoped to capitalize on the inline skating boom of the early 1990s. Key parts of its success were its stance on no guaranteed contracts, instead teams would all split prize money.[3]

Teams were generally made up of minor league ice hockey players playing on inline skates during the summer months between ice seasons.[4]

Murphy saw big potential for the sport and believed that inline hockey could become the number one hockey sport in the US.[3] The league had plans to expand to up to 24 teams, including some from Europe, by 1997.[5] However, RHI became known for its unstable franchises, instability in the league's front office itself, little media coverage and many teams struggling to attract crowds - while the Anaheim Bullfrogs led in attendance with an average of 9,800 per game, seven teams attracted less than 4,000 per game on average, while the whole league's attendance averaged around 5,000 by 1996.[5]

Ultimately, after five seasons of play and a fading in the inline skating boom, RHI folded in 1998 with two of its franchises joining Major League Roller Hockey: the Buffalo Wings and its premier club, the Anaheim Bullfrogs. RHI was revived in 1999, with a 10-team roster that included five holdovers that had played in RHI in 1997: the Anaheim Bullfrogs, Buffalo Wings, Minnesota Blue Ox, San Jose Rhinos and St. Louis Vipers.[6]

The league cancelled the 2000 season and the league finally ceased operations in 2001 when their sites were limited to arenas in California.

The St. Louis Vipers were resurrected in 2020 as an expansion team of the National Roller Hockey League.


The rules in the RHI were similar to but not identical to those of ice hockey. Besides the obvious difference of playing on a floor instead of ice, the RHI had four players and a goalie at a time on the playing surface opposed to ice hockey's five and a goalie.[7] Minor penalties were only a minute and a half as opposed to two minutes and major penalties were four minutes instead of five.

There were no blue lines and therefore no offside;[7] however, there was still illegal clearing (icing) and a different version of offside—a player could skate over the red line before the puck; however, the player couldn't receive a pass over the line. The puck itself was lighter, at 312 oz. and made of red plastic as opposed to a 512 oz. black rubber ice hockey puck. There were four 12-minute quarters opposed to the NHL's three 20-minute periods. A tied score at the end of regulation time in the regular season would go straight to a shootout instead of overtime.

The playoffs followed a best-of-three series format; however, the third game was not a full 48 minute game. Instead it was just a regular 12-minute quarter called "the mini game". If the teams were tied at the end of the quarter a sudden-death overtime period would follow.[8]


Note: RHI 1993-97, revived RHI 1999[9][10]

Roller Hockey International Progression
Year Teams Games Played
1993 12 teams 14 games
1994 24 teams 22 games
1995 19 teams 24 games
1996 18 teams 28 games
1997 10 teams 24 games
1998 No season
1999 8 teams 26 games


Year Teams Expansion Defunct Suspended Return from Hiatus Relocated Name Changes
1993 12 Anaheim Bullfrogs
Calgary Rad'z
Connecticut Coasters
Florida Hammerheads
Los Angeles Blades
Oakland Skates
Portland Rage
St. Louis Vipers
San Diego Barracudas
Toronto Planets
Utah Rollerbees
Vancouver Voodoo
1994 24 Atlanta Fire Ants
Buffalo Stampede
Chicago Cheetahs
Edmonton Sled Dogs
Minnesota Arctic Blast
Montreal Roadrunners
New England Stingers
New Jersey Rockin' Rollers
Philadelphia Bulldogs
Phoenix Cobras
Pittsburgh Phantoms
San Jose Rhinos
Tampa Bay Tritons
Toronto Planets Connecticut → Sacramento River Rats
Utah → Las Vegas Flash
1995 19 Detroit Motor City Mustangs
Minnesota Blue Ox
Calgary Rad'z
Florida Hammerheads
Las Vegas Flash
Pittsburgh Phantoms
Portland Rage
Tampa Bay Tritons
Minnesota Arctic Blast New England → Ottawa Loggers
Atlanta → Oklahoma Coyotes
Edmonton → Orlando Rollergators
1996 18 Denver Daredevils
Long Island Jawz
Buffalo Stampede
Chicago Cheetahs
Detroit Motor City Mustangs
Minnesota Blue Ox
Oklahoma Coyotes
Minnesota Arctic Blast Phoenix → Empire State Cobras
Orlando Jackals (Rollergators)
1997 10 Minnesota Arctic Blast
Philadelphia Bulldogs
San Diego Barracudas
Vancouver Voodoo
Oakland Skates
Oklahoma Coyotes
Empire State → Buffalo Wings Ottawa Wheels (Loggers)
1998 0 Denver Daredevils
Long Island Jawz
Montreal Roadrunners
Oakland Skates
Orlando Jackals
Ottawa Wheels
Sacramento River Rats
1999 8 Chicago Bluesmen
Dallas Stallions
Minnesota Blue Ox Oklahoma Coyotes → Las Vegas Coyotes


The Eastern Conference and Western Conference were created when RHI doubled in size to 24 teams in 1994 after its first series of expansion and realigned its teams into two conferences and four divisions. Prior to the 1994 realignment, Roller Hockey International divided its teams into only three divisions and no conferences.

From 1994 through 1996, the Eastern Conference was divided into the Atlantic Division and the Central Division, which were both successors to the Murphy Division. Starting in 1997, the conferences had no divisions.

From 1994 through 1996, the Western Conference comprised teams divided into two divisions: Northwest Division and Pacific Division. Starting in 1997 the conferences had no divisions.

Eastern Conference champions[edit]

Western Conference champions[edit]

Murphy Cup championship winners[edit]

Total Murphy Cup Championships
Team Titles Runner Up
Anaheim Bullfrogs 2 2
St. Louis Vipers 1 0
Orlando Jackals 1 0
San Jose Rhinos 1 0
Buffalo Stampede 1 0
Oakland Skates 0 1
Portland Rage 0 1
Montreal Roadrunners 0 1
New Jersey Rockin' Rollers 0 1


The league inspired at least one video game, Super Nintendo's RHI Roller Hockey '95, although the game was never released.[17]

There was also a call-in style stats, scores and interview hotline where fans could call in following games. The phone number was 1-800-741-4RHI. This line was updated nightly following each game.

Media coverage[edit]

In the 1994 and '95 seasons, there was a regular schedule of games on ESPN2.[18] Craig Minervini was the lead play-by-play man for ESPN2 coverage and also hosted the recap show RHI Rewind on the network.

In addition, several teams had their own radio or TV contracts. For example, a number of Blades home games were seen on Prime Sports and the Bullfrogs had radio broadcasts from 1994 to '96.

NHL alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robb, Sharon. "It Looks Like Hockey--But On Wheels", Sun-Sentinel, June 5, 1993. Accessed October 5, 2020. "Diamond, 21, a world-class in-line skater, will try out today for the Florida Hammerheads, one of 12 professional teams in the first-of-its-kind Roller Hockey International Pro League."
  2. ^ "roller hockey international, professional roller hockey". 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  3. ^ a b Good, Philip. "Roller Hockey Team Finds a Home", The New York Times, April 10, 1994. Accessed January 23, 2017. "Yet Dennis Murphy, the league's president, said the fastest-growing sports equipment sales were in Rollerblade skates. And he has no doubt about the direction of the sport. 'We believe we can be the No. 1 hockey sport,' he said. Mr. Murphy has a lot of experience in establishing new sports leagues. He is the founder of the roller hockey league with Larry King. Mr. Murphy, Mr. King and Billie Jean King founded World Team Tennis. Mr. Murphy also had a role in creating the old American Basketball Association and the World Hockey Association."
  4. ^ Allan Muir (2015-06-22). "Worst NHL draft picks of all time by Western Conference teams". Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  5. ^ a b "The Wheel Deal : Roller Hockey International Officials Say Sport Is Here to Stay - latimes". 1993-12-08. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  6. ^ Staff. "ROLLER HOCKEY INTERNATIONAL TO RETURN", The Buffalo News, January 28, 1999. Accessed January 25, 2017. "After a one-year sabbatical to restructure the league and change half its teams, Roller Hockey International officials said Wednesday they will resume play this June with 10 franchises in the United States.... Only the San Jose Rhinos, Anaheim Bullfrogs, Buffalo Wings, Minnesota Blue Ox and Saint Louis Vipers remain from 1997."
  7. ^ a b Wong, Art (September 4, 1993). "Roller Hockey League Has Visions of Net Profit". The Daily Oklahoman. Knight-Ridder Newspapers. Retrieved July 21, 2020 – via
  8. ^ "Roller Hockey International Rules Summary". Archived from the original on 3 June 2004. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  9. ^ "RHI Logos - Roller Hockey International Logos - Chris Creamer's Sports Logos Page". SportsLogos.Net. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  10. ^ "Roller Hockey International history and statistics at". Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  11. ^ Penner, Mike. "Bullfrogs Floor the Curse", Los Angeles Times, September 8, 1993. Accessed January 26, 2017. "The Bullfrogs are 1993 champions of Roller Hockey International, the little league that started up in early July in an attempt to capitalize on the in-line roller blade fad, warm some seats for Mighty Ducks ticket holders and maybe kill a few summer nights between Angel ulcers and Ram headaches. The Bullfrogs didn't lose a game. They went 13-0-1 during the regular season and swept through the playoffs in four games, including Tuesday's clincher, a 9-4 victory over the Oakland Skates."
  12. ^ Staff. "This Day in Buffalo Sports History ; Sept. 2, 1994 -- On a roll", The Buffalo News, September 2, 2010. Accessed January 26, 2017. "The Stampede captured the Roller Hockey International title on this date, beating the Portland Rage, 8-7. A crowd of 14,175 -- an RHI record, even though there were reports of large ticket giveaways -- got to watch a Buffalo team win a championship."
  13. ^ via Associated Press. "Knicks Get $1 Million, No. 1 Pick for Riley", Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1995. Accessed January 26, 2017. "Ken Blum's overtime goal gave the San Jose Rhinos a 2-1 mini-game victory over the Montreal Roadrunners and the Roller Hockey International title at Montreal. Montreal forced the mini-game with a 7-6 victory."
  14. ^ "McGann Makes Birdie Putt To Win Playoff", Los Angeles Times, September 3, 1996. Accessed January 26, 2017. "The Orlando Jackals won the Roller Hockey International championship by defeating the Anaheim Bullfrogs, 8-4, in the final game of the three-game series."
  15. ^ "Results Plus: New Jersey Falls in Final", The New York Times, September 1, 1997. Accessed January 23, 2017. "The Anaheim Bullfrogs beat the New Jersey Rockin' Rollers, 9-5, last night in East Rutherford, N.J., to complete a two-game sweep of Roller Hockey International's Murphy Cup."
  16. ^ McLeod, Paul. "Bullfrogs Back in Business, but for How Long?Roller hockey: After a year off, league tries to get back on track. Anaheim opens Saturday at Pond.", Los Angeles Times, June 4, 1999. Accessed January 24, 2017. "The Bullfrogs' seven-year record is 128-35-6. They won RHI titles in 1993 and '97, but when the league went broke after the '97 season, they jumped to Major League Roller Hockey, where they finished 20-0-1 and won the championship in 1998."
  17. ^ "RHI Roller Hockey '95". SNES Central. Retrieved 5 November 2022.
  18. ^ "Roller Hockey / Inline Hockey: 1990 – Present - A History Of Hockey". Retrieved 2017-01-23.

External links[edit]