(Note: This is part three of the NHL Playoff Memories series. You can read part two here.)
Before the game, the Rigas family—owners of the Buffalo Sabres—hands out bottles of maple syrup (no one is quite certain why) in the press box. Nearly six periods later, the sportswriters are considering ordering in a pancake breakfast to go with the syrup.
The game has been tied 1-1 through two overtime periods. There's five minutes left in the third overtime.
Dallas centre Mike Modano grabs the puck along the half-boards, and passes it to right wing Brett Hull. Hull takes a shot. Sabres goalie Dominic Hasek makes the save, but can't control the rebound.
The puck leaves the crease, but—and this is important—Hull's skate does not. Hull corrals the puck with his skate and takes another shot.
At 114:51 of the marathon, the game is over. The Stars have won the Stanley Cup, the first southern team to do so.
Or have they? The rule regarding pucks in the crease has been trouble for a while now, and this is no different. Director of Officiating Brian Lewis looks at the replay seconds after the goal, as do two other officials.
The original rule does not say anything about control of the puck, but in March, NHL senior vice-president Colin Campbell issued a clarification to the rule that guaranteed just this sort of trouble.
According to Campbell, an attacking player may stay in the crease, even if the puck leaves the crease, as long as the player has control of the puck. Lewis decides that Hull was merely kicking the puck from his skate to his stick. Therefore, Hull had control of the puck the entire time.
Buffalo captain Michael Peca tries to protest to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, but gets no response. Coach Lindy Ruff tries as well with no result. Bettman later denies Peca approached him, and that Ruff was “out of control” and “not in any condition to have a conversation.”
Should the NHL have disallowed the goal? With the Stars mobbed on the ice and champagne corks popping, what's the right call? Either way, the league loses.
Dallas centre and 17 year NHL veteran Guy Carbonneau is asked if he'd seen the replay. “No,” he says. When will he watch it?
Hull's goal happens at 1:30 a.m. Sunday. On Monday, the NHL announces that video replay will no longer be used to decide disputed goals when a player is in the crease. By summer's end, the rule no longer exists.
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