“We had nothing left. They had nothing left. Thank God it’s over,” said Stanley Cup VIP Joe Nieuwendyk after his team, the Dallas Stars, won Game 6 of the 1999 finals in the third overtime. While the players may have been happy to have the match decided, the long-awaited end was just the beginning of the controversy over the winning goal.
Sports Illustrated called having one of the most exciting Stanley Cup finals ever decided by a controversial play “the NHL’s worst nightmare.” At 14:51 in the third overtime, Dallas’ Brett Hull made a rebound shot on the edge of the crease to seal his team’s 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. At the time, there was a rule that said players were not allowed in the goalie’s crease unless the puck was already there, and video replays show that Hull’s foot was there first. Outraged, the Sabres refused to leave their locker room for 20 minutes. They were prepared to put their jerseys back on and finish the game. But NHL officials supervisor Bryan Lewis said Hull could in fact have one foot in the crease and make a goal. While that seemed to go against the rule, Lewis said it was allowed because Hull had maintained possession of the puck the entire time. Sabres fans took up the rally cry of “No goal,” claiming the officials didn’t want the embarrassment of having to restart a game everyone thought was over. Nevertheless, the Stars hoisted the Cup over their heads and enjoyed their dubious victory. The crease rule was changed shortly thereafter.