June 19, 1999 -- Do the words "no goal" mean anything to you? Has it really been this long? Sigh.
Let's review for those in the audience who need a refresher course. The Sabres were trailing Dallas, three games to two, in the Stanley Cup finals. The two teams were taking part in Game Six, which lasted until the third overtime, in HSBC Arena.
Then Brett Hull of the Stars came up with the puck around the Buffalo crease. With his foot in the crease, he put the puck past goalie Dominik Hasek for a Stanley Cup-winning goal. Or was it? The Sabres argued that the goal should be waved off -- as many such goals were in NHL games that season.
No one is completely sure just how much of a look NHL officials gave to the play. The goal counted at 14:51 of the third overtime.
"Somebody should have called from upstairs and said, 'This is not a goal.' All I wanted was a review," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I wanted [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman to answer the question of why this wasn't reviewed. He turned his back on me. It was almost as if he knew this goal was tainted."
In a television interview, referee in chief Bryan Lewis downplayed the controversy, claiming Hull had continuous possession of the puck. Hpwever, when the NHL later released a memo about the "skate in the crease" rule, it seemed to indicate that the play didn't strictly follow any of the guidelines ... but that a reasonable reading of the rule would indicate the goal should not have counted.
As if it mattered once the Stanley Cup had been presented. And the play will anger Sabre fans forever.
--- Budd Bailey