Still stings a little doesn't it?
Even though the calendar continues to flip away from the most controversial moment in Buffalo Sabres history, some folks just read those first two words and grimaced or shook their heads. It's been exactly 10 years since the conclusion of the 1999 Stanley Cup finals, a full decade since Brett Hull deposited the winning goal with his foot firmly -- and illegally -- planted in the crease.
And while time moves on, it fails to erase the image of Dallas' star sniper slipping the puck past Dominik Hasek and breaking hearts throughout Sabreland.
"I can't believe 10 years have passed," Jay McKee said by phone Thursday. "It feels like yesterday."
Indeed, that has been a common refrain. Really? Has it been that long since June 19, 1999, the day when the Stars skated around Marine Midland Arena with the Cup while Sabres coach Lindy Ruff vehemently argued the goal's legality?
Yes, it has. But the moment is still right there in the memory bank.
"I think about it every time whether I'm in the playoffs or not," said McKee, the former Sabres defenseman who now plays in St. Louis. "Every playoff time, I revert back to thoughts of that year and how close we were."
Hull's goal -- in triple overtime of Game Six -- will forever be the lasting image for fans in Buffalo. It made them feel like they were robbed. It still makes them feel that way.
But on the anniversary of The Play, it's the series itself that fills the minds of those who were on the ice.
"If we lost the game fair and square, I think we could still remember -- and we do, to a large extent -- the special things we accomplished as a group," former Sabres captain Michael Peca said by phone Wednesday. "The players, the coaching staff, the management, the trainers . . . we all came together on the heels of losing the conference finals the year before to making a run -- and a pretty good run -- at the Stanley Cup.
"It was just kind of forgotten for a while because of that No Goal, but I think when I talk to a lot of guys from that team, we all still remember the great run more than the No Goal."
That's how it is in Dallas, of course. It's a Stanley Cup victory, not a tainted Stanley Cup victory. The Stars are trumpeting their 4-2 series win on the team's Web site via the "1999 Stanley Cup Rewind." It's a season of celebration, complete with video highlights, photo galleries and game recaps.
Stu Barnes has been able to see it firsthand. Barnes was a key forward on the Sabres' Cup finals team, but he played his final five seasons in Dallas and just completed his first year as an assistant coach for the Stars.
"Everybody [in Dallas] is proud of the accomplishment of winning," Barnes said by phone Thursday. "I think everybody involved in the series knows it was a great series. It was an unbelievable series, and really any team could have won.
"It's unfortunate that all that stuff had to surround what was really a great series."
While there certainly were other highlights, only one play is summed in two unforgettable words.
"Everybody does remember that," McKee conceded. "There was a GM this year talking about the video system, and he mentioned how Brett Hull scored a goal that shouldn't have counted. Even people outside of Buffalo or just our team know it as well, and that certainly stings a bit. But you can't live and worry about things that didn't go your way in the past."
Added Peca: "You've got to let it go.
"The consensus back then was they missed a call. They did everything they could to cover it up. There was a lot of anger at the time. But I think as time goes by, you just use it to motivate yourself, to realize that those moments are so precious. Really, anything can happen to either help you or hurt you.
"Obviously, we were on the wrong end of it."
As if the fans in Sabreland needed reminding.e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org