All your life, you've dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup. Making the NHL is Step One and winning the Stanley Cup is the realization of the dream. But to score the Stanley Cup-winning goal is the pinnacle of an extraordinary career for Brett Hull.
| As a member of the Dallas Stars in 1999-2000, Brett Hull scored his 600th career NHL goal. (David E. Klutho/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Brett Hull joined the Dallas Stars as a free agent just in front of the 1998-99 season. Backroom whispers suggested that Hull would leave St. Louis for the Chicago Blackhawks, where his Dad had starred for so many years, including a Stanley Cup in 1961, but instead, he signed with the Stars.
Dallas enjoyed a dominant first-place NHL finish during a story regular season, and as such, were awarded the Presidents' Trophy. But that wasn't the silverware the Stars planned to take home to Texas.
The Stars swept the Edmonton Oilers in the Conference Quarter-Finals, and then met Brett's former squad, the St. Louis Blues. It took six games, but Dallas dumped the Blues in the Conference Semi-Final.
Next up for Dallas was Colorado, and while the Western Conference Final went a full seven games, it was Brett Hull and his Stars who emerged victorious, earning a berth in the Stanley Cup Final against the Buffalo Sabres.
The series opened at Reunion Arena in Dallas, but the Sabres surprised their hosts with a 3-2 overtime win in Game One. The Stars rebounded, and doubled their guests to tie the series in Game Two.
Off to Buffalo for Game Three, Dallas handed the Sabres a second straight loss with a 2-1 win. And then, returning the favour while tying the series, Buffalo won Game Four, also by a 2-1 count.
Returning to Dallas, the Stars' Eddie Belfour shut out the Sabres 2-0 in Game Five, pinning the Buffalo boys to the wall.
Game Six, staged at Buffalo's Marine Midland Arena on June 19, 1999, was tied 1-1 at the end of sixty minutes. It was still tied at the end of the first overtime period. In fact, it remained deadlocked at the end of the second period, too. But then, later in the third overtime, one of the most controversial Stanley Cup-winning goals was scored courtesy of Brett Hull.
| Hull scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Dallas Stars in triple overtime in 1999. (David E. Klutho/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Through the season, officials had diligently disallowed any goals scored when the skate(s) of an offensive player was in the crease. Yet, at 14:51 of the third overtime period, Brett Hull pushed his own rebound past Buffalo netminder Dominik Hasek to score what looked like the Stanley Cup-winning goal.
The Dallas Stars clambered over the boards and mobbed Hull in jubilation, joined by media personalities, family and fans. The video replay clearly showed that Hull's skate was in the crease, and the Sabres argued vociferously that the goal should be disallowed. But the rulebook stated that a player can enter the crease as long as he has control of the puck, so the goal stood. Ironically, the crease interference rule, which had been introduced prior to the 1997-98 season, was eliminated for the start of the next season.
The goal stood, giving the Dallas Stars their first Stanley Cup win. In fact, the team debuted as the Minnesota North Stars in 1967-68 before relocating to Texas in 1993, and this was the first Cup victory for either the North Stars or the Stars.
Ironically, Hull and Hasek were teammates with the Detroit Red Wings when that franchise won the Stanley Cup in 2002. Although they were roommates, Hull swears he and Hasek never discussed the controversial goal during their time as teammates.
The Stanley Cup win was Brett Hull's first, and the culmination of a childhood dream. Scoring the winning goal, controversial or not, made the victory that much sweeter.
Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.