Rule 78. (b) Unless the puck is in the goal crease area, a player of the attacking side may not stand in the goal crease. If a player has entered the crease prior to the puck, and subsequently the puck should enter the net while such conditions prevail, the apparent goal shall not be allowed. If an attacking player has physically interfered with the goalkeeper, prior to or during the scoring of the goal, the goal shall be disallowed and a penalty for goalkeeper interference will be assessed. The ensuing face-off shall be taken in the neutral zone at the face-off spot nearest the attacking zone of the offending team.
Above you’ll find rule 78-b from the 1999 NHL rule book. On June 19th, 1999; this rule became one of the most famous and debated rules in NHL history. For those who don’t remember here is a little refresher (Sabres fans might not want to click on the video):
Brett Hull and the Dallas Stars became instant villains in the eyes of Sabres fans the very second Hull placed his skate into the crease. No review of the goal was ever made at ice level by the officials. The referees just skated off the ice giving then head coach Lindy Ruff no explanation. To this day the NHL maintains the correct call was made. The NHL states that Brett Hull had already secured possession prior to his skate entering the crease. However in the above rule I see nowhere that states possession allows a player to enter the goalie crease. I’m not going to go on debating the rule and the point of these posts are to rewrite Sabres history.
What If It Was Called No Goal?
The Stars were the odds on favorite walking into the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, but the Sabres had the best player in the world Dominik Hasek on their team. The Stars featured a team of big name players like Brett Hull, Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Ed Belfour. The Sabres shocked the Stars winning game one in Dallas on the “shoot heard round the world” from Jason Woolley in overtime. Every game in the series was a low scoring close game. The Sabres were coming off a disappointing 2-0 loss in game five. The Sabres were looking to regain momentum and force a game 7 back in Dallas.
So what if the Sabres win game six in overtime? Buffalo would have the momentum of a big game six overtime win and would have the favorite on the ropes in game 7. The Sabres could go into the game with a nothing to lose attitude and play a more relaxed than the Stars. Not to mention the Sabres would be have the best goaltender in the world Dominik Hasek in their net. It would be hard to bet against a team with 39 in the blue paint when everything was on the line. Winning in Dallas was not an unfamiliar thing to Buffalo. They were able to take game one in Dallas, but to be fair were the Sabres were outplayed in game two and five that took place in Dallas.
Do the Sabres win game seven if it happens? Probably not to be honest, but that was the type of odds the Sabres enjoyed to have against them in the 1998-99 season. They loved to be the underdog and out work their opponent. Unfortunately the fans of Buffalo are stuck with the memories of “no goal”, to go alone with “wide right” and “the music city miracle”. One day the luck will change for sports in the City of Buffalo. To end on a good note, lets watch the 1999 game one overtime winner again.