photo courtesy of http://media.avclub.com/
Since Charles Wang bought the Islanders in 2000 people have lauded him for saving the team noting the team probably wouldn't be here right now if he hadn't purchased them. While that is true, those people neglect one thing or if they don't neglect it they just don't care to remember it. The Islanders were actually saved around 3 years before Wang purchased them.
In 1997, Islanders owner John Pickett sold the Islanders to a man named John Spano. Spano was said to be a Texas tycoon looking to own the team. However, it was eventually proven that Spano wasn't who he said he was and pulled off one of the biggest hoaxes in sports history.
Although he was eventually caught, he wasn't right away and for four months Spano actually owned the Islanders. During that time he made some key decisions regarding the team. The biggest being the extension of the Islanders cable contract through 2031. The contract starting in 97/98 paid the Islanders an annual sum that would increase annually through the end of the contract. By the end of the contract the Islanders will be getting paid in excess of 30 million dollars. The extension of this cable contract is thought to be the biggest reason why the Islanders are still here and will remain in the NY Metro area come 2015.
So, while Spano was unable to do a lot of stuff that he promised because he wasn't who he said he was. He actually did more in those few months for the team then some of the Islanders owners did throughout their entire ownership tenure. To learn more about his ownership tenure check out the ESPN 30 for 30 film that aired on Tuesday night about him narrated by Kevin Connolly, it was very well done.