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The hockey league that was literally ready to roll in 1993

Just when it seemed hockey season was over, another sports league had players lacing 'em up on inline skates.

Calgary Rad'z played on concrete with full equipment

Roller hockey: Canada's next great sport?

29 years ago
Duration 2:46
The owner of a CFL team is counting on Canadians to embrace hockey without ice.

With the Stanley Cup awarded for another year in June of 1993, most Canadians were probably glad to be done with thinking about hockey.

But another sports league had players lacing 'em up and getting ready to roll. 

"Out of California, Roller Hockey International," said CBC reporter Kevin Tibbles. "A 12-team professional league coming to a concrete pad near you."

"This game is tough," said Morris Lukowich, coach of one such team in Calgary. "Because when you get knocked down, you don't slide on this."

Former NHL player Morris Lukowich of the Winnipeg Jets was coach of the Calgary Rad'z roller hockey team. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

By "this" he meant the concrete surface of the arena for roller hockey.

And Lukowich knew tough: he was a former pro who had played for the WHA and NHL-era Winnipeg Jets

Now, though, he was skating on wheels rather than blades and auditioning players for the Calgary Rad'z roller hockey club.

Brother act

Ed Lukowich, a two-time Brier champion curler and 1986 world champion, was manager of the Calgary Rad'z roller hockey club in 1993. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

Rad'z?

"That's California surfer talk for radical, whatever that means," explained Tibbles for the audience of Prime Time News.

Despite the name, the team was all Canadian.

So Canadian, in fact, that it was coached by Ed Lukowich, Morris's big brother and a champion curler whose rink took home two Briers and the 1986 world championship.

"I think people are very excited to see what the product will be like," said Ed.

The team's owner was no neophyte in professional sports: Larry Ryckman also owned Calgary's CFL team, the Stampeders.

Admitting that it might be "nuts" to invest in roller hockey, he nevertheless envisioned a future for it.

"In 1995, rollerblade equipment will outsell ... ice hockey gear in the U.S.," he said. "I don't know if this is going to work here, but I'm going to try it."

Hook them while they're young

Calgary's roller hockey team held hockey clinics for kids, and hoped their parents would become paying customers. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

To that end, the Rad'z also operated roller hockey clinics for young skaters, hoping to build players, and a fanbase, for the game.

"On Monday or whatever, can you guys show up to school with your [Rad'z] shirts on to impress your friends?" said Morris Lukowich to a gaggle of kids in helmets.

A player for the Calgary squad demurred when Tibbles asked how much money has was paid, but evidently it wasn't much.   

Nevertheless, the league managed to muster two other Canadian teams: the Vancouver VooDoo and the Toronto Planets, according to the Globe and Mail.

The Calgary Rad'z folded after two seasons, according to hockeyDB.com, and Roller Hockey International lasted until 1999.

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