Derek Plante enjoyed a successful run in Buffalo before winning the Stanley Cup with Dallas. ©2024, Janet Schultz

‘No Goal’ at 25: Former Sabres standout Derek Plante learned special lessons during Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup run

In the moments after Brett Hull scored, as Derek Plante celebrated the Dallas Stars’ Stanley Cup victory, on the other side of the ice, he saw his former Buffalo Sabres teammates trying to process the most gut-wrenching loss of their lives.

Twenty-five years ago Wednesday – June 19, 1999 – Brett Hull scored his controversial “No Goal” 14:51 into the third overtime of Game 6, clinching the Stars’ first championship. Plante watched the disputed goal on television in the dressing room with the other scratches, then joined his teammates in full gear on the Marine Midland Arena ice to hoist the Cup.

“That’s a mixed bag, right, because it was kind of a really weird experience when we won just to look over and go, ‘Oh, they’re my friends I’ve had for six years,’” Plante told the Times Herald. “So those were really my buddies.”

Plante never faced his buddies that series. The forward sat out the entire final and played just six times during the Stars’ 23-game postseason run. He did, however, score a late tying goal in the second round.

Still, having been traded by Buffalo to Dallas three months earlier, as the only player on either roster who had played for both teams that season, he remains an interesting footnote to the memorable series.

Barely two years earlier, Plante scored one of the most famous goals in Sabres history, beating Ottawa Senators goalie Ron Tugnutt in overtime of Game 7 to win the first-round series. It remains the franchise’s only Game 7 victory.

Plante scored 27 goals and a team-high 53 points that year, the third time in his first four seasons he surpassed 20 goals and 50 points.

But after coach Lindy Ruff replaced Ted Nolan that offseason, Plante morphed from a scoring threat into a role player.

While he embraced his lighter role with the Sabres and remained happy, when they dealt him on March 23, 1999 in exchange for a second-round pick, he welcomed a fresh chance.

“I’d spent a year and a half or more of playing on the fourth line or not really playing after having a pretty good year,” said Plante, who’s entering his third year as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks. “I felt like I was capable of playing. … Professionally, I knew it was time to move on.”

On a deep Stars team that featured six future Hockey Hall of Famers, Plante continued providing depth. While he played just 16 total games the rest of the year, the lessons he learned over the next few months have stuck with him.

“I learned more than at any one time than in that playoff run, just the unselfishness of everybody and the really, like, dedication to winning, and how everybody just gives up a little bit of himself to help the team win, I guess,” Plante said. “So whenever you kind of start thinking about yourself too much, you can just kind of like (say), ‘That’s not how it works.’ It was a huge part of it.

“I think there were probably like 10 captains on that team by the end, so there’s just a great message. … It was a great experience. Too bad it wasn’t in Buffalo, I guess. But, I guess, I count myself lucky to be on the right side of that one.”

Of course, most Buffalo fans consider the Stars lucky because Hull scored his Cup-clinching goal with his foot in the crease. Based on rules then, it should’ve been disallowed.

“For sure it’s a goal,” said a laughing Plante.

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