ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ series to tackle John Spano/Islanders ownership saga

Things haven't been very bright for the New York Islanders in many years. Whether it's been the lack of playoff appearances to Mike Milbury's mismanagement of the franchise in the 1990s to what they thought was a new owner in John Spano in 1996 to their current arena issues, it hasn't been easy being an Islanders fan.

The Spano saga, one of the more infamous moments in potential-NHL-owner history, is set to have its story told during the next batch of ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries, as reported by Chris Botta of Sports Business Journal on Tuesday. It will be directed by Islanders superfan Kevin Connolly, who showed his excitement about being involved in the project by Tweeting out a picture of Clark Gillies and Bobby Nystrom, whom the Entourage star had interviewed. An ESPN spokesman told Puck Daddy the film "would be at least a year away".

You'll recall when 30 for 30 began back in 2009 it led off with "Kings Ransom", a film by Peter Berg about Wayne Gretzky's trade in 1988. The full list of documentaries for Vol. II hasn't been released, so at the moment this Islanders film will be the second hockey-related one in the series.

Spano was the young businessman who conned his way into (briefly) purchasing the Islanders in 1996. After the 1996-97 season, things hit the fan when payments were missed and checks were bounced.

From an Alexander Wolff piece in Sports Illustrated from Aug. 4, 1997:

On July 17 federal authorities charged Spano with bank and wire fraud, citing among other things a letter from Lloyds signed by a senior vice president named Clive Jones in the trust department confirming the existence of a $107 million trust. The bank claims that it does not employ anyone by that name in that position. If the story laid out by the feds is correct, the look Rudman saw on Spano's face at that Islanders-Canadiens game betrayed what Spano must have by then come to realize: His run as ubiquitous ingratiator and brazen joyrider, as Forrest Gump and Ferris Bueller rolled into one, was coming to an end.

Leading up to those charges, Newsday did some investigating after receiving tips Islanders executives and discovered how big of a fraud Spano was. On July 11, 1997, Spano gave up control of the Islanders and was arrested a short time later. Be sure to read this 2009 blog post from Botta, a former Islanders PR executive, about his time around Spano.

Check back later today for an essential read on the Islanders as we begin our annual August blog project.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy