And what does he know about building teams and leagues?
You might be surprized...
He played the game...
Fact is, If we should ever meet up, I will be a real curiosity to you...probably the last person you will ever meet who played the game sans goalie mask. I got 50 bucks a game and, in the years since, spent over $60,000 with a single dentist. Not a great deal although, adjusted for inflation, that $50 would be $400 a game in today's dollars.
He helped introduce the game in the South
I'm a Wisconsin guy who wound up in the South
In 1974,I assembled an ownership group to introduce ice hockey to the South. The Fayetteville Arsenalwere an expansion team in the new Southern Hockey League. Unfortunately, the team failed to secure a home arena when the ice installation at the Fayetteville Arena fell behind schedule.
With the season fast approaching with a pro hockey team in training camp in Canada, I lucked out when the Virginia Wings of the old American Basketball Association (Dr. J's league) moved from the Hampton Coliseum to the other side of the bay, playing in Norfolk, VA,
A mere two weeks before the start of the season, the Hampton Gulls were born and played four successful seasons before moving up tp the AHL, eventually becoming the Hampton Admirals and then the Norfolk Admirals. Later, ice was installed in Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Fire Ants were born. As it turned out, by sheer luck, I introduced ice hockey to two southern cities.
He gave John Brophy his first coaching job
This one is a real hoot! Living in the south at the time, I remembered the legendary
John Brophy from his days as the all-time bad boy in the Eastern Hockey League. His playing days had about ended when we limped into Hampton two weeks before the start of the season needing some publicity and, more importantly, ticket sales.
And so Bill Raue got John Brophy to coach the Gulls. He made it all the way to the NHL, coaching the Maple Leafs for a couple of years. If you don't know about this guy, elsewear on this site you will find a page devored to the life and times of John Brophy. And yes, Paul Newman's character in Slap Shot was inspired by John Brophy.
He introduced MLRH: Great Idea! Bad timing!
By the late 90's, I owned a successful graphics and PR business in Washington, DC.
Mostly, my accounts were nonprofits and political clients. The Sierra Club (huge environmental organization) was my big account at the time. Then, along came the roller hockey boom and my employees were playing and trying to get Bill to join them.
As an old ice guy, I thought it was a joke but put on the pads for the hell of it. Next thing, we are publishing a roller hockey magazine and covering the old Roller Hockey International (RHI). They were losing money big time ($40,000,000 by their own admission) and I thought there must be a better way. And so, Major League Roller Hockey was born, playing in affordable 5,000 seat arenas. Our banner year was 1998. 13 teams, $6,000 per week salary cap for 13 weeks, winning team got $75,000, second place team split $35,000.
Adjusting for inflation, in today's money, each team paid $9,000 a week in salary (plus housing). First prize would have been $75,000, second place would have been worth $53,000. In total, $1,600,000 was distributed to players over a 13-week season and every player got every dime he was owed.
That's more than the ECHL, Central, Southern and Federal leagues pay today - for
playing roller hockey!
We had 10,000 fans for the championship game at the Pond in Anaheim and Bill Raue thought he was king of the roller hockey world. Not quite. The following year, the RHI tried to come back, crashed and burned three weeks into the season leaving a mountain of debt
And that, boys and girls, proved to be the end of big-time pro roller hockey. The sponsors were afraid of getting burned again and there was no money for pro roller hockey.
The Anaheim Bullfrogs won the $50,000 back in 1998