Tribeca ESPN Sports Film Festival : Big Shot

USA | Documentary | World Premiere | 2013 | 77 min
You can only imagine the excitement my body felt when I found out that a documentary film about hockey was going to be screened at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, I literally ran to the theater while grinning like an idiot. I even probed the other press members in the theater if they were hockey fans. I was not surprised when most of them said they were not fans and never really watched hockey, as soon as I expressed that I was a Canadian it all seemed to make sense to them as to why I couldn’t stop dancing in my seat blurting out numbers and facts about my beloved sport. The lights dimmed, the picture started and I instantly became turned on while remembering that the NHL Playoffs began at the end of the month.
During the late 90’s the New York Islanders were in need of some desperate help, their franchise was slowly crumbling apart with no sign of getting their shit together. In 1997, this random man John Spano offered to purchase the team, practically saving them from extinction. Who was this thirty-something John Spano who popped up out of nowhere? Well no one really knew either, he claimed to be a Dallas money tycoon who simply wanted to invest in the fading New York Islanders franchise. In the end, it turned out to be one of the biggest cases of fraud in The National Hockey League history. Spano manipulated and cleverly schemed his way into making everyone believe he had the money to rebuild and help this team.
Kevin Connolly makes his directorial debut with this revealing sports documentary and manages to open the changing room doors and lets us have a sneak peek into the minds of those who were affected the most by Spano’s deceitfulness and manipulation. Connolly interviews Wayne Gretsky, Bob Nystrom and other NHL affiliates involved at the time and they all come up more or less with the same opinion of Spano: he was an emotional crazed man who never really knew the difference between establishing a name for yourself and fucking everyone over for one’s social status and social impact. It is truly shocking to see how Spano was able to easily accomplish fraud before technology had really developed and how he managed to trick millions of people! Eventually shit hits the fan and Spano gets what he deserves but I won’t spoil it for you.
I will die a Montreal Canadians fan and as a true hockey fan who grew up in arenas, I will never turn away from attaining more knowledge about the history of each NHL team. Big Shot is a well-organized insightful sports documentary that I would recommend to any and all hockey fans. I am very pleased to see more hockey documentaries being released because we ought to learn everything there is to know about the National Hockey League to keep it going strong, I would argue that Kevin Connolly probably agrees with me that it is imperative that hockey sticks around until the end of days.

Andrea Boulet