Blue Paint and Skate Blades

by Ryan

starscupraise

There are a few brief moments that ruin this video. That is one of them.

Ten years ago tonight, the Dallas Stars won game six of the Stanley Cup Finals, once again slamming the door on the hopes and dreams of an entire region. That moment is as close as this town has been to a championship in the last decade and counting.

Now everyone knows the particular situation surrounding the conclusion of game six, and so we won’t go there. The psychological impact of that moment ranks as one of the more important events of my life, and I know I’m not alone in saying that.

However, I feel there is something that should be disclosed about that night. For countless Sabres fans it has become the “Where Were You?” moment of their lifetime, right up there with Wide Right, 9/11, and the day Empire Sports Network shut down. So where was I during one of the most important and controversial moments in Sabres history?

I was in bed.

Now we don’t really discuss age here, but I’m sure by now most readers understand that the four of us are still quite young. What this post is telling you is that in 1999 I was young enough to not be able to stay awake long enough for triple overtime. Of course my present day self hates my younger incarnation for this very reason, but that’s another story altogether.

In any event, sometime between the second overtime intermission and the start of the third, I passed out. The next thing I remember was waking up in the morning and racing out to the living room to see what happened. I didn’t know what channel to put on, but I found my way to ESPN and just… watched.

It came up as a special highlight from SportsCenter, and as I saw that skate and that puck, I honestly couldn’t believe what I saw. I’ve never seen a little kid punched in the stomach, but I imagine that’s exactly how I looked as I slumped over on the couch. I didn’t want to believe it was over, but try as I may I was unable to convince myself I was dreaming.

I didn’t leave the house the rest of the day. In fact, I don’t think anyone in my family did. It was a honest to God day of mourning in my house, and all across Western New York. It was over, and despite all the petitions and talk radio it wasn’t coming back.

A decade later, I still can’t forgive myself for missing it. I never saw one of the biggest moments in Sabres history, and that will never change. That snapshot from the commercial is almost completely foreign to me, and in a way that makes me really, really sad. There is missing out on things because you weren’t alive, and then missing things because you couldn’t keep your eyes open. Somehow the latter seems more cruel.

Curtis-Brown99Still, there are plenty of memories attached to that Sabres team I can fondly recall. Hasek standing on his head and beating the Leafs. The overtime winner from game one and that glimmer of hope it gave. Eating pizza on every gameday because my mom was too nervous to cook. No matter what I never saw or might have missed, that postseason run all those years ago will always mean something to me.

To be honest, I can’t believe it’s been ten years. It seems like an eternity when the numbers are there, but I can still remember that morning and the feeling that came with it. Someday I hope that feeling will mean less, but right now I think it’s important to remember.

So tell me, where were you ten years ago, and what do you remember from that game? I told you my story, now it’s your turn.

12 Comments

  1. I was camped out on my bedroom floor with my dad watching the game on CBC. He fell asleep sometime in the second overtime.

    When Dennis Huhhhh Brett Hull scored and Bob Cole blew the call (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VWAtMxXVCs&feature=related), I knew something was wrong. Maybe it was just the denial that we had just lost the Cup on home ice, but I didn’t accept that he had scored right then and there.

    Then all the “no goal” talk started. I’m not sure if I slept that night or not. All I know is that I was miserable in school on Monday.

    I still have the “We’re Gonna Win That Cup” CD at home somewhere. Before every playoff game after it came out, I had them play it over the afternoon announcements at school.

    That was a quick decade.

  2. I distinctly remember James Patrick hitting the crossbar too.

  3. MarthMarth

    I was celebrating my birthday by watching the game. FML

  4. jack

    nine years old and had begged my parents to let me stay up and watch the game. god that was a terrible night.

  5. Mike

    I was in High School watching it at my friends house. I remember another friend called saying he was at the game and we were all so jealous. Until later.
    As overtime started I remember just thinking we were going to lose and I began to mentally prepare myself for it. Of course I was hoping the opposite but call it…just being from Buffalo. I had already lived through four Super Bowl losses. I was really impressed though through the OT. The Sabres were fighting. Hard. They had fought hard all series.
    Then it happened and I remember being crushed and then the next moment thinking “Well, that’s it.” But Lindy and everyone else was protesting and whatever sort of crushedness/pride I had was replaced by indignance and hope. If they could show that Brett Hull’s skate was in the crease surely, there could be some remedy, right? But everyone was on the ice, Mike Modano was skating around with the cup and I knew that they couldn’t exactly take it away from the Stars as the League would look, well, even more retarded.
    It was a really confusing and empty ride back to my house. But I only had to wait a year until the dejection of Home Run Throwback. Sadly, I think I’d trade up now for actually having both our teams in the playoffs.

  6. Peter Farrell

    Section 113, Row 26, Seat 6.

    I’ll save myself the trouble, I posted a long rant of my thoughts on the night at our blog…..

  7. brian s.

    Pilot Field with my dad and uncle. There were some kids who brought a homemade Stanley Cup beer funnel that got confiscated and a chick fight between the 2nd and 3rd overtime. I also remember some guy tipping over garbage cans on the way out and hearing about the skate on the radio on the way home.

  8. Ogre39666

    Like you I was in bed; I was 11 at the time. The next day I remember my dad telling me what happened and all I could do was just sit down and wonder if Hasek (my all time favorite player and, at that age, hero) would ever get that close again.

  9. I stayed awake till the end of the game, but was in bed before any discussion of skates in creases and the cup being handed out…

  10. jzambon

    I remember exactly where I was. I stayed up all night (I was 13 at the time), and was lamenting having to go out and deliver newspapers the next morning. I stayed up for the non-goal, then the celebration, and kept sitting at the edge of my seat thinking “maybe they’ll turn the goal back”.

    I was 13 and in total denial. Even when they were parading around with the Cup, I kept thinking “maybe they’ll call it back…”

    10 years later and I’m not over it, but I’m more optimistic. Think of how sweet it will be when we do win the Cup. As far as I’m concerned, it’ll blow away all the wide-rights and no-goals we all grew up crying over. Just keep believing. Keep watching games and keep living through wins or losses. Even if it doesn’t happen for another 39 years, it’ll be worth it.

    I live in Raleigh now, and the people here have no idea what they won or care about it at all. There was hockey talk for a few days when they were in the ECF. When they got swept, there was no more talk. The most irritating part of all of it was getting harassed by people for being a Sabres fan, “ha, they didn’t even make the playoffs”. But then when they get swept out of the ECF, “oh, I don’t care about hockey”.

    Sorry for the rant.

  11. Sorry. I’ve been out of town and just got around to going through my RSS reader.

    That night I was in Nathalie, Virginia (don’t bother trying to find it on a map) and it was the night before my grandfather’s funeral. I was in the basement of their extremely old farm house watching the game with my uncle, aunt and my aunt’s husband. All three lived in Dallas. All three were huge bandwagon Stars fans.

    For many reasons it had already been a long day and the intensity of that game wore on me as it wore on into the night. By the time it was over, I had nothing left. The puck went in, the Stars streamed onto the ice and I was done. I silently walked upstairs, laid down on the floor and went to sleep. There were so many people in town for the funeral that unless you had claimed a bed or couch early, you were hosed.

    I was so spent the game and floor didn’t even cause me to lose any sleep. I was out.

    Six months later I was in New Orleans hoping to see my beloved Hokies capture the national title. They led after three quarters, but watched Florida State score 18 unanswered points in the fourth to give us our only loss in that magical thrill ride of a season.

    Two soul-crushing losses to my two favorite teams in a six month span. I hated sports for a while after that.

    Oh, I almost forgot. The Red Sox lost to the Yankees in the ’99 playoffs, too. Knoblauch still hasn’t tagged Offerman.

  12. I’m really glad to see the responses here. I’m glad I’m not the only one with semi-terrible memories of an awful moment in Buffalo sports history. Coping through mass grief is key here…