05/28/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
Buffalo, New York. The home of the NFL's Bills and the NHL's Sabres. Two major sports franchises, that's what the city has. No NBA. No MLB. Just hockey and football. And what seems to be one big sports curse. "Wide Right", "No Goal", and the "Music City Miracle" are just a few of the painful memories sports fans in Buffalo would like to forget.
In 1960 the Bills were born as a charter member of the American Football. 10 years later, the Sabres joined the NHL. Early success brought hope for the future of these franchises. The Bills won the AFL championship in 1964 and 1965. The Sabres would reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 1974/75. They would lose to Philadelphia in 6 games. But the future looked bright for Buffalo, right? Well the "curse" first made it's appearance in Buffalo during these times as well. In 1961 the Bills became the first and only NFL team to play against a team from the Canadian Football League. They also are the only NFL team to lose to a CFL team, as the Bills were defeated by Hamilton. During the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals, parts of Game 3 were played in a heavy fog due to unseasonably hot temperatures. That cloud has stayed over Buffalo sports since it seems.
The early 1990's were the peak years of the Buffalo Bills in the NFL. The Bills opened the '90's by making four straight Super Bowl appearances. They also lost four straight Super Bowls. The most painful being 1991. With :08 seconds left, and the Bills trailing the New York Giants 20 to 19, kicker Scott Norwood came on to try a 47 yard field goal for the win. Norwood missed..."Wide Right".
The Bills wouldn't be close in their next 3 Super Bowl appearances, losing to Washington in 1992. But the "ironic" thing is Bills running back Thurman Thomas couldn't find his helmet and had to sit out the first two plays of the game. The Bills committed 9 turnovers in 1993 and were crushed by Dallas 52 to 17. Those 9 turnovers remain the most by one team in Super Bowl history. In 1994, despite leading at the half, the Bills would lose to the Cowboys again. And haven't been back since.
What's almost as painful as those Super Bowl losses came in the 1999 NFL playoffs. The Bills led Tennessee with :16 seconds left after kicking the go ahead field goal. That's when the Titans lateraled the ball on the ensuing kickoff, ending with Frank Wychek lateralling the ball to Kevin Dyson, who would score the winning touchdown. Wychek's lateral looked close to being an illegal forward pass, but it wasn't called. It ended up being called "The Music City Miracle" in Tennessee. It ended up being another big ouch in Buffalo sports history. It was also the last playoff appearance the Bills have made.
That was an ominous start to the year 1999. It would only get worse. The Sabres were back in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since losing in 1975. In Game 6, down 3 games to 2, the Sabres and the Dallas Stars battled into triple overtime. And that's when Brett Hull of the Stars scored the game winner. Or did he? The NHL had a rule in place that if a players skate was in the opponents goal crease and a goal was scored, that goal would be disallowed. Hull's skate was in the crease, but it wasn't called. And Dallas would win the Cup on Hull's overtime goal. Or as it became known in Buffalo, "No Goal".
Oh Buffalo, us sports fans in other cities feel for you. I mean, the Sabres were the worst team in the NHL, so bad that some thought they were tanking on purpose. But that's because being the worst in the NHL could have a sliver lining, as Connor McDavid, who's being compared to Sidney Crosby, is expected to be the first overall draft pick in this years NHL Draft. McDavid is considered a generational talent who played his junior hockey in nearby Erie, Pennsylvania. It seemed like the perfect fit. Except Edmonton won the draft lottery and the right to select first overall. Which means if Connor McDavid is the franchise player he's expected to be, it won't be in Buffalo.
And did anyone really think the Sabres were going win the Mike Babcock "sweepstakes"? The most sought after free agent coach possibly in NHL history. Buffalo's deep pocketed owner Terry Pegula believed his high dollar offer would land Babcock's services. It didn't. Babcock decided to take the Toronto Maple Leafs offer instead.
Will it ever end? The sports fans of Buffalo sure hope so. Of course the old joke is , "it could be worse, you could be fans in Cleveland". But knowing Buffalo's luck, the Cavaliers will win the NBA title this year.
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