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Do You Remember Where You Were When “No Goal” Was Scored?

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June 19-20, 1999. The Dallas Stars beat the Buffalo Sabres 2 to 1 in Triple Overtime to win the Stanley Cup. Hard to believe it’s been 13 ears since Bret Hull scored the Cup winning goal that shouldn’t have counted. We here in Buffalo will forever call it “No Goal.”

Sour grapes? Could be a little of that, but rules in effect at that time mandated that no offensive player could have a skate or even part of a skate in the goal crease for it to be considered a legal goal. There were so many goals negated by the goal-in-the-crease rule that it was almost an automatic thing – wait for the video review. It took away a lot of the spontaneity of the sport. That’s why the NHL eliminated the rule.

After Hull scored the goal, the doors to the rink swung open – a crowd of reporters ran on to the ice. Tables and carpets were set out for presentation of the trophies. Nobody seemed to be overly concerned about how the goal was scored.

At a public rally, coach Lindy Ruff proclaimed “No Goal” and it stuck. The NHL tried to explain they had sent out a memo weeks before clarifying the “skate in the crease” rule. Under the clarifying memo, the goal would be legal because Hull maintained control even though he didn’t have possession. I’ve been scratching my head over that explanation ever since.

So the Stars won the Stanley Cup and took it back to Dallas – hardly a hockey-crazed town. Since then other non-traditional hockey towns like Tampa, Anaheim, Raleigh (North Carolina) and this year the Los Angeles Kings have taken the Cup.

When do the Sabres reward their die-hard fans with the Cup? They couldn’t even make it into the playoffs this year. In the 42 year history of the Sabres they’ve been to the Cup final only twice, losing both times. I’ve been there for all 42 years and I’m sure there are a lot of others who are just as frustrated.

The game began on June 19th and ended in the early morning hours of the 20th.  It’s been 13 years that “No Goal” joined “Wide Right” in the chapters of Buffalo’s missed chances of winning a major sports championship.

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