The veteran official was working game number 1,011. His 1,000th game came back in March, when the Florida Panthers visited the Boston Bruins. The ceremony was delayed so as to avoid any distractions around the high-intensity of games during the push to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Both teams presented Sutherland with gifts — the Rangers offering a stick from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist signed by the team and the Capitals a signed ‘1000’ jersey.
Sutherland is in his 16th season in stripes for the National Hockey League, making his first appearance as an injury replacement. Sutherland told ESPN The Magazine:
At my first game, in Buffalo, Scott Driscoll got hurt, and I replaced him. Kerry Fraser and I look similar, so when I got on the ice, a fan yelled, ‘Fraser, you suck!’ I hadn’t started, and already I was being heckled!”
Sutherland made his NHL refereeing debut on December 19, 2000, working a game between the Atlanta Thrashers and Los Angeles Kings .
We spoke with Sutherland last year about his career highlights, including working three Stanley Cup Finals, the 2014 Winter Olympics Gold Medal game, and reaching the 1000-game mark.
That’s obviously your goal, right? You want to work in all these [significant games]. Like I said, I’ve had those events, but you still want more. They’re addictive. There’s a ton of pressure, but that’s why we’re in this business. You want to be the best. You want to be able to compete. Players compete by scoring goals and winning games. We compete by trying to be the referees in all the biggest games, and that’s what keeps you going. When you lose that, it’s probably time to hang up the skates. We have that competitive drive in us.
Congratulations on Kelly for having the drive to reach the 1000-game mark, and all the best on a terrific career so far.