Leon Stickle Misses an Obvious Offside Call in 1980
For many Philadelphia fans who watched the 1980 Stanley Cup Final, linesman Leon Stickle will is someone who will live forever in their hearts and minds as a villain. During Game 6 of the Islanders vs. Flyers series in the Finals, New York’s Clark Gillies dropped a pass to Butch Goring, a play that should have been judged as offsides, but Stickle infamously missed it and the Islanders scored a goal that gave them a 2-1 lead in the first period. More drama was to come later in the game, as Bobby Nystrom controversially scored the game-winning goal in OT. According to most experts, the OT goal was legit, as Tonelli had the puck in the zone before Nystrom was in the zone. But for Philly fans, the no-call in OT was just as bad as the first one. When asked later about his questionable calls in the Finals, Stickle admitted that the no-call in the opening period was wrong by saying, “I guess I blew it. Maybe I was too close to the play.” Whether or not either plays or just the first one was wrong is something that will be constantly debated, but what remains as a fact is that, the nature of that game could have changed greatly if either or both calls were made correctly. And because of the mistake(s), and the Game 6 victory, the NY Islanders won their first Stanley Cup, while the memorable records set by the Flyers in the 1979-1980 season didn’t matter much in the end, as Philadelphia didn’t win the eventual all-important trophy in the Finals.