RINE: It’s All About Attitude for Nailers’ Roberts

WHEELING – The Hockey Club of the Ohio Valley hasn’t taken over ownership of the Wheeling Nailers, and won’t until this season comes to an end. Obviously, then, it’s too soon to make assumptions as to whether the venture will be a success.

But if attitude counts for anything in this equation, Tim Roberts already has a head start.

”We don’t know what the reality is,” he said at last week’s news conference announcing the acquisition of the club by a conglomerate of WAHA and the Regional Economic Development Partnership. ”I’ve never bought a stock, a business or done anything in my life thinking I would lose.

”You don’t go into a game thinking you can lose. You go into a game thinking you can win.”

The goals are many, and quite frankly this isn’t solely about hockey. Roberts believes with all he has that the city of Wheeling is in the process of making a turnaround. The former Thunderbird has seen it with his own eyes.

”I’ve coached, I think every high school team, and my buddies have coached, and they’re finally coming back to the area,” Roberts said of his former players. ”They’re coming back. They’re getting out of college and they’re getting jobs in the area and you’re starting to see it turn around. They want to come back to Wheeling, to the Ohio Valley.

”These kids want to come back and find jobs, and we have to provide them jobs.”

Ah, but there’s one caveat to that.

”That’s my one deal with these kids – you show up in Wheeling, you’re coaching,” Roberts said. ”I put the time in, you put the time in.

”I volunteered, now you’re volunteering to help these kids.”

If You Can’t Make It …

One particularly interesting bit of information Roberts passed along had to do with unused tickets for individual games. Though nothing is set in stone, Roberts said he has an idea about how to fill those empty seats rather than tickets going to waste.

”For the businesses, I think the Penguins started doing this and we’re going to pick up on it, where if you can’t use your tickets you donate them back,” Roberts said. ”WAHA is a not-for-profit and you give a donation, you get a tax credit.

”They will be used for the kids that are underprivileged.”

In case you haven’t picked up on the Roberts’ theme yet, this whole thing is about the children of the Ohio Valley. He wants to see each one – yours, his, mine and your neighbors’ – have every opportunity to succeed in life.

The way he sees it, the better the kids have it, the better we all do.

”This community owns the team,” he said. ”Get behind the team and show us support. Show us what I believe of this community.

”From an outsider, I’ve seen it. It’s there.”

Turani in Awe

Businessmen are hockey fans, too, and Will Turani, the president of the board for RED, is proof positive. Off the top of his head, Turani named numerous old-time Penguins players that he grew up following, long before being a Pittsburgh fan was the fun thing to do.

”I didn’t know it could be so thrilling to own a hockey team. This is amazing,” he said. ”And we absolutely recognize the importance of the ice at WesBanco Arena for the kids of today.

”It’s thrilling to see and it’s wonderful to know that our commitment means so much to everybody.”

Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at