By Conor Thompson
For what now feels like an eternity during the Sabres league leading playoff drought, the only team Buffaloians cheer for during the Stanley Cup Playoffs is whoever they have in their playoff bracket. But June 19th is famous day in Sabres history, even though many wish it never existed. On this date in 1999 it was game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Sabres, who were constructed mostly of a hard working team under Lindy Ruff, were facing a deep roster in the Dallas Stars. On this date 22 years ago game 6 was played in Marine Midland Arena, now known as KeyBank Center. The game was a duel between two of the best goalies of the 90s, the Stars Eddie Belfour and arguably the greatest goalie to ever put on the pads, Dominik Hasek. While both netminders were teammates in Chicago, both were battling each other on their ends of the ice.
Dallas took in early lead in the first period but Buffalo came back to tie the game 1-1 in the second period on a Stuuuuu Barnes goal (As Rick Jeanneret would say). With the score even at one at the buzzer, the Stanley Cup Finals were heading to overtime. With both goaltenders displaying why they were some of the best in the world, the infamous incident didn’t take place until the 3rd overtime.
At 14:51 in the 3rd overtime, there was a scramble for a loose puck in the Buffalo crease. With Hasek on his stomach attempting to find the puck, legendary goal scorer Brett Hull was able to find the puck before Hasek for a easy goal. But was it a goal? As seen in the picture below, Hull’s foot is in the crease while the puck is outside of the crease. In 1999 the NHL rule was that a player on the opposing team was not allowed in the crease unless the puck was in the crease. However, practically everyone on the ice, in the stands and at home didn’t notice at the moment, but the Sabres did notice once they were in the locker room. As NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was delivering the Stanley Cup to the Dallas Stars, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was infuriated with Bettman yelling at him from the bench.
With the Sabres and their fans eagerly waiting for a explanation from the league why this deciding goal counted, the NHL stated since Hull made the first shot and then scored on his rebound, that made him the puck handler the entire time. What many didn’t know, myself included, was at the beginning of the 1999 season the NHL apparently sent a memo out to each NHL club that stated, “If a player was in control of the puck, a skate could be in the crease even if the puck was not, and a goal in that circumstance would count.” Even though no one had heard of this memo until 2:30 that morning. Bryan Lewis who was the Director of Officiating at the time stated that the goal was reviewed and the goal should have counted. But oddly enough during the 1998-1999 season, multiple goals similar to the one Hull scored were reviewed and taken off the board.
To the reader reading this piece, where were you on this day 22 years ago and what are your thoughts on the “No Goal” call?