Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Buffalo Sabres winning the 1999 Stanley Cup in Game 6 vs. the Dallas Stars.
Oh wait. That never happened.
Instead, Brett Hull scored the most controversial goal in NHL history, thanks to possibly the biggest officiating blunder in sports history (right up there with Don Denkinger and The Tuck Rule).
No matter how many times they insist that "he had possession of the puck the whole time", it's never a satisfactory explanation. There's no doubt that the NHL completely botched this one. I can't even tell you how many similar goals, with a player's skate in the crease completely away from the play, were called back that season. This was how the rule was originally stated:
"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."
This was such a black and white rule, and enforced as such all season, that to be wishy-washy about it with the Cup on the line was inexcusable. So how did Gary "Fucking" Bettman attempt to defuse this debacle? By announcing two days later that the NHL was getting rid of video review. Video cameras? What video cameras?
"Bettman said the man-in-the-crease rule will stay in place, but on-ice officials will decide whether goals count without using replays. The rule usually disallows a goal if an offensive player has any part of his body in the goal crease."
Of course, he's a complete liar, as the crease rule was eradicated shortly thereafter, and video replay has become an integral part of the game. Since this incident, the NHL officiating has continued to be maddingly inconsistent, especially with the "new" NHL allegedly ushered in after the 2005 lockout season.
While some people consider Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer, for me it doesn't truly begin until Bettman is booed out of the building while trying to present the Stanley Cup. Whatever the reason fans may have for doing so, this jackass deserves the jeers that great him at every public appearance. At this rate, the next time he'll hear a crowd cheer is at his funeral.
I believe this tradition officially started in New Jersey (what are da fuckin' odds, right?) by Devils fans in the Meadowlands Arena who were irritated that the NHL was talking about the team's possible move to Nashville right in the middle of their Stanley Cup run in 1995.
Devils fans even booed him lustily in 2003, despite their team having just won their 3rd Cup in 9 years:
Thanks to magic of YouTube, we now have the fantastic "Gary Bettman Boo Montage":
Sidsburgh fans booed Bettman last year . . .
. . . and Detroit fans didn't let us down this year.
Those boos cascade down like warm rays of sunshine, don't they? And doesn't Gary look extra "twitchy" with each passing year? One can only hope the cumulative effect is taking its toll on that contemptable troll.
This is it for my hockey posts. It's been fun, and see you next season.