WHEELING - The 20th season of professional hockey in Wheeling could be the last. Two independent sources confirmed to The Intelligencer on Tuesday night that Nailers co-owners Rob and Jim Brooks have put the team up for sale, effective immediately.
The sources, who wished to remain anonymous, said an official announcement on the team's future could be coming as soon as this week.
The Brooks brothers, who have owned the Nailers for nine years, are currently in the process of having an arena built in Allentown, Pa., for their American Hockey League team, the Adirondack Phantoms. The duo also has stakes in many other teams throughout the country including the Texas Rangers, so the possibility of being spread too thin exists.
The last several years the brothers and Wheeling haven't exactly seen eye-to-eye. The brothers and WesBanco Arena General Manager Dennis Magruder were at odds recently about renovations to the building, including the installation of a video scoreboard that never came to fruition.
The team has played 10 "home" games in Johnstown, Pa., each of the last two seasons, though it's not known what, if any factor, the relationship between the two parties played in that arrangement.
It's believed that new local ownership is perferred, though all avenues are being explored. If an owner is not found, the team will go dark next season.
The Nailers, who advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, are 20-13-3 for 43 points, are second in the Atlantic Division at the All-Star break. They are in Johnstown for a pair of games Friday and Saturday night.
Attempts to reach Rob and Jim Brooks were not returned.