No Goal

I had another post planned for tonight, but there is something about the game from last night that has been sort of stuck in the back of my mind all day, so I decided to switch gears.

I want to talk about the 1999 “No Goal”.

The final two minutes of the game last night were outrageous. I’m still amazed at how close Pittsburgh came to tying it up after being so thoroughly dominated all evening. It was a photo finish. I really didn’t believe it was over until I saw the puck skitter clear of the goal line in the replay. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but I thought I detected the slightest hesitation in the immediate celebration of the Red Wings, as if they too were waiting for some kind of extra confirmation that the game was actually over, and that they were the champions.

In the seconds after the final buzzer, but before NBC showed the replay, I had a very distinct series of thoughts: “Holy shit. What is the replay going to show? Can they restart a game in the middle of a Stanley Cup celebration? What if that puck actually went in? It was so effing close. I really think it might have gone in.”

That’s when I think I “got it” (just a little), about the “No Goal”. The circumstances were very similar after all. Just like last night, it was the end of a game six, and a celebration was already occurring, only in 1999, there was a puck in the back of the net, and a murky rule in the books. What a terrible way to end a season. What a dreadful thing for the league. What a kick in the gut to Buffalo. (And yes, I know the story goes that the Sabres were way overmatched, and that it was a miracle they were in the SCF at all. I know that the general consensus is that there was no way they could have won a game 7 anyway; but all of that really has nothing to do with the fact that the championship series ended on a highly controversial goal that probably shouldn’t have been allowed.)

I had a moment last night when I truly thought Hossa had jammed that puck in, and in that moment I really, really didn’t want the series to end on a controversial call. I wanted it to be clear and fair. And then I thought of the Sabres in 1999. Last night was the first time it sunk in for me, as a new Sabres fan, how much the “No Goal” must have totally. freaking. sucked.

I’m not bringing this up to debate the legitimacy or the illegitimacy of the goal, or to open old wounds, or to get everyone all fired up again. I guess I just feel like I took another little step towards becoming a real Buffalonian last night, and I wanted to write about it here on my blog. Nine years after the conclusion of the game, and seven years after I moved to Buffalo, the “No Goal” stung me a little bit for the first time.

Falling in love with the Sabres is what helped me fall in love with Buffalo, and for that I will always be grateful. For the most part, I try to steer clear of the bitter side of the “Buffalo sports fan” personality. I have to admit, until last night I largely dismissed the “No Goal” controversy as a product of the Buffalonian’s penchant for wallowing in sports related disaster…..but the whole mess has just been bugging me all day. I can’t BELIEVE that happened, and I can’t IMAGINE how upset I would be if it happened today. The lingering emotional effects of the “No Goal” perfectly encapsulates the Buffalo sports frustration that I have so carefully tried to avoid, but the longer I live here, the more I realize that things like the rally cry of “NO GOAL,” and the positive energy of the Ice Bowl, both come from the same well of passion. I can’t truly enjoy one, without acknowledging the other.

So, tonight, I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine and say a toast to my friends in Buffalo (many of whom read this blog) who had to endure the infamous “No Goal”.

A drink for my homies, enjoyed in the spirit of utmost respect.

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10 Responses to “No Goal”


  1. 1 danielleia June 5, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    I like how you just left it to Google for all your “no goal” needs.

    Kate, I’m glad your embracing the Buffalo sports fandom… and enjoying Buffalo!

  2. 2 Shari June 5, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    I felt the same way after the game was over. I thought for sure that puck went in and it was like they didn’t know whether to celebrate or not so it wasn’t the usual craziness. For a minute, I thought, they won so many cups, it’s not a big deal to them?
    And even though I was going for Detroit, for a second I felt that no goal creeping in again and thought they better review this!
    Rob Ray said in his book it was 1:45 in the morning and the refs just wanted to get it over with. The celebration was already going on while Lindy was arguing away. God that REALY SUCKS!
    Wow, there’s a really pretty red and orangy lightning going on outside here!

  3. 3 Shari June 6, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Check this out, Don Cherry with Brett Hull. Pretty funny!
    Look around 6 mins into it.

  4. 4 Heather B. June 6, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Shari, there was also a Hull clip during last year’s playoffs where he railed about goal reviews and said, “You have to get it right in the Stanley Cup Finals.” Funny, Brett!

    The ’99 Cup run was my first dose of the Sabres back when Mark and I first started dating. As he told me the following morning, “Welcome to Buffalo sports. Get used to it.”

  5. 5 Carisa June 6, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Ugh, I felt the same way! Except, I wanted the Penguins to win =) I almost cried for them, having to end the game and the series that way. I wasn’t a hockey fan during the No Goal controversy, but I’m sure I would have blubbered like a fool for days! I was so upset for Pitts, how would I have felt if that was our beloved Sabres? I don’t think I could have handled it.

  6. 6 Jaime June 6, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I was in the throes of Sabres passion in ’99. I’d only been a fan for about a year or two and I remember crying in the car on the way home after “No Goal”. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth but I’m ready to feel the giddiness of seeing my team lift the Cup!

  7. 7 Lynn June 6, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Long time reader, first time commenter. As a native Buffalonian living near Pittsburgh now, I can’t tell you how horrible the “No Goal” was. I had just graduated from high school and the No Goal sucked the fun out of a graduation party I was attending. Everyone was watching the game, having a grand old time, and then Brett f—ing Hull scored with his skate in the crease. The party immediately died and everyone in attendance dispersed. I am surrounded by Steeler and Penguin fans and they know that all they have to say is “Wide Right” or “No Goal” to get a rise out of me to this day. Keep watching the Sabres Katebits. You’ll feel this pain someday!

  8. 8 Katebits June 6, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Oh, Lynn, I have no doubt that I’ll eventually have to live through a “no goal” of my own. Thanks for your story about your “no goal” experience, but even MORE, thanks for saying the blogging equivalent of the old radio “Long time listener, first time caller” phrase. It’s like a dream come true to hear it on my blog! :D

  9. 9 Matt June 6, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    I think your eyes have been opened at long last, Katebits. That is exactly why No Goal still gets me to this day.

  10. 10 Katie June 6, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    My father still says that “no goal” was my induction into Buffalo sports fanhood. I was 10 years old, and I cried so hard – first because we lost and then when I saw the replay and realized it shouldn’t have counted. I think that my rabid Sabres passion was born from that moment, though. I loved them more because they got screwed over.

    I’m so glad that your Sabres passion has turned into a love for our fair city as well. We may be pessimistic when it comes to sports, but it’s nice to know people can see why that may be the case.


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