Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Spano: 'I'd do it again'
By Katie Strang
If you missed it on Tuesday night, ESPN's 30 for 30 film series aired a 90-minute documentary about the epic scam pulled by John Spano.
A brief synopsis: Spano lied about his finances in order to buy the Islanders in the mid-1990s, falsifying documents and greatly exaggerating his net worth to the league and the organization. Without the cash to make the payments, Spano resorted to lie after lie to delay the inevitable. Eventually, he went to prison for bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud after being exposed as a grand-scale con artist.
All in all, an incredible story and well-done documentary.
-- Easily the best part of the film was the enmity between Spano and former Isles coach and general manager Mike Milbury. Spano claims he fired Milbury. Milbury said Spano is "full of s---." Milbury, never one to shy away from colorful language, goes on to call Spano an "a--h---" and "moody as hell."
Meanwhile, Spano painted Milbury as a megalomaniac interested in only one thing: "Mike Milbury."
-- At the end of the film, Spano actually admitted he'd do it again, even after getting emotional about the toll it took on his parents and how his actions hurt other people. He truly seems to believe, even now, that he could've pulled it off.
"It was a fulfillment of a dream, even if it was for a short time."
-- Favorite scene? The dramatic re-enactment of New York Daily News beat writer Pete Botte's late-night, clandestine meeting with Spano at the St. Regis hotel in NYC. Botte said Spano claimed his benefactor was a wealthy, well-connected mobster.
-- Great insight from former Islanders beat writers Botte, John Valenti and Alan Hahn. They provided good context about the climate around the team at the time and the utter craziness of the story.
Overall, a definite must-watch for Isles fans, though I could've done without director Kevin Connolly's shot at the end of him announcing draft pick Brock Nelson a few years back. Clearly a labor of love for Connolly, a die-hard Isles fan, but that was unnecessary.