20 years

Where were you 20 years ago for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final?

June 19, 2019 - 12:31 pm

Photo: Elsa Hasch - Allsport


Today is my wedding anniversary. 20 years and thankfully still going. I feel tempted to leave room here for obligatory jokes about out-kicking coverage, snares and high hats.

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Anyways, if you go back with us far enough to have listened frequently, or if you listened to my old night time show on WBEN from 1995-2000, you might recall that my wedding day was the same day as Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Writing down the results of that game seems superfluous to most of you, I’m sure, but allowing for someone who doesn’t know exactly what ‘Game 6’ means...

The Sabres lost, 2-1 in triple-overtime, on a disputed goal that the league later concocted some half-baked memo about claiming that the rule regarding a skate being in the crease while the puck was not had been relaxed or something. Look, it was utter nonsense and always will be. Brett Hull drunkenly screaming “We WENT Blues!” isn’t going to change that.

The weirder part to me is that despite my standing as an up-and-comer on the gritty mean streets of Buffalo sports talk radio, I had no idea any of it had happened.

Yes, we had the game on at our wedding reception. It was on at the bar and also on a huge screen at one end of the tent that housed our reception, thanks to Delaware Camera and Video who loaned me a projector for the evening. But I barely watched.

We had the Steam Donkeys, a fantastic and still active Buffalo band, set up to play before the game began and then again after. They ended up performing mini sets during overtime intermissions.

I was busy being the groom at a wedding reception and that left little time for me to worry about whether or not Dixon Ward was going to score. As the overtimes piled up and Saturday night turned into Sunday morning, our focus turned to collecting the gifts, signing the checks so they could be deposited on Monday, thus allowing for us to have funds available to enjoy out honeymoon. Remember, I work in AM radio, it’s not like I was sitting on a pile of dough to burn through in Mexico.

That’s where I was when the Stanley Cup winning goal was scored. In a back room at my now in-law’s cottage, signing checks, filling out deposit slips and listening to the game on the radio. The goal was scored and I honestly don’t recall having time for a reaction. The band had to be paid, they later gave us the money back as a gift (thanks guys), and there were other loose ends to tie up. My dad was in charge of taking the projector back to Delaware Camera. Out of town guests needed directions to the Crystal Beach Motel.

A car service picked us up around 2 a.m. to take us to the Toronto airport. I remember faintly hearing Brad Riter, who had been at the reception earlier, doing the post-game show on the radio, but the signal was sketchy and I had no idea about the controversy that was taking place.

I mean, I hadn’t even seen the goal. We got on a plane early that morning and landed in Puerto Vallarta, got to our all inclusive resort, fell into the pool that had a bar in it and let’s just say I wasn’t spending much time fretting about the Sabres and how they had lost. I was disappointed, sure, but I was also floating in a pool with my bride and free drinks.

It wasn’t until Wednesday of that week, so June 23, that I called the station to see how things were going that I learned of the controversy. I remember Matt Franko, who worked with us back then answering the phone. It went something like this:

  • Franko: “WBEN, what your name and where are you calling from?”
  • Me: “Matt, it’s Chris, I’m in Mexico, how’s it going?”
  • Franko: “Man, it’s been insane, wall-to-wall calls, Lindy got everyone fired up again today at the rally, we’re trying to get Bettman on the show and...”
  • Me: “Matt, Matt, stop, what the hell are you talking about? Rally? Bettman? Seriously, what is happening?”
  • Franko: “Wait, are you telling me you don’t know what happened? Hull’s skate was in the crease, the goal shouldn’t have counted, it’s been completely insane here.”
  • Me: “WTF?!?!”
  • Franko: “I gotta go, phone won’t stop ringing.

I’m not sure what transpired next. Maybe I found some internet access. Maybe I found some copies of the USA TODAY around the resort, I honestly don’t remember. I know I got all the way caught up on what had happened rather quickly even though I wasn’t going to be back in Buffalo until almost July.

It's funny now, but I also remember thinking that maybe I’d lose my job over this. I mean here’s this massive controversy and I’m nowhere to be found for weeks. Of course that never materialized and I came home and went back on the air and the story raged on for days after I had returned. Maybe it even lasted until the Buffalo Bills started training camp, I’m not sure.

That’s my story. I’ll be looking for you to share yours today starting at 3 p.m.

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