Bill Sutherland, a Flyers original, dies at 82

Bill Sutherland, a Flyers original, dies at 82

Every franchise has a first.

And for the Flyers, Bill "Sudsy" Sutherland held a very special distinction: scoring the franchise's first goal in 1967.

Sutherland, 82, died on Sunday. The cause of death was not disclosed.

"Bill was an original member of this organization who helped set the standard of success and what it meant to be a Flyer," Flyers president Paul Holmgren said in a statement Monday.

"He came to the Flyers as a veteran and played a crucial part in leading the team to a first-place finish in the West Division in the very first season. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time."

Sutherland, who played on the Flyers' expansion team that first season under Keith Allen, led the club with 20 goals in 1967-68.

"He was a pretty smart player," Lou Angotti, the Flyers' first captain, said Monday in an interview with "One of those players who seemed to see the ice very well.

"Smart with the puck and very creative. A good player, too. I would put him right up there with the top five on our club."

Sutherland's first goal in Flyers history came on Oct. 11, 1967, in a 5-1 loss to the California Golden Seals on the West Coast.

Ironically, he also scored the franchise's first goal on home ice at the Spectrum on Oct. 19, 1967, in a 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Bill Sutherland was the consummate pro," Joe Watson recalled Monday. "He was a man's man out on the ice. He wasn't especially fast but he was a very intelligent hockey player, who handled the puck well, made good plays and read situations very well."

Sutherland almost didn't get to play that first game at the Spectrum.

"We're coming through the building and the security guards were there and we are all walking through and all of us are looking kind of young and Billy was looking older and the security guard says, 'Where are you going?'" Watson said. "Billy says, 'I'm a player.' And the security guard says, 'You can't be. You're too old.' He was 36 at the time.

"But anyway, I'm glad the Flyers brought him in because he scored the only goal in that game and we beat Pittsburgh, 1-0. Rest in peace, my friend. He was a real pro and a good man."

Sutherland played parts of four seasons in Philadelphia, briefly playing in Toronto in 1968-69, then returning to the Flyers the following season.

In all, his career as a centerman spanned seven years in the NHL with 70 goals and 128 points in 250 games. He scored 42 goals with 71 points as a Flyer.

Sutherland finished his hockey career with the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA.

Before becoming a Flyer, he played in the Montreal Canadiens' farm system from 1962-67.

Flyers dominated by Avalanche as they continue to start games in slow motion

Flyers dominated by Avalanche as they continue to start games in slow motion


For those who still cut their own grass, the Flyers have all the signs of that old, cold, cranky mower that never fires up the first time you try to get it going.

They don’t seem to start the second, third or fourth time either.  

Here we are now five games into the home schedule and the Flyers have yet to establish a first-period lead at any point against any opponent. They fell behind by four goals to the Sharks in the home opener on Oct. 9 and they’ve been playing catchup ever since as they’ve been outscored 7-1 in the opening 20 minutes at the Wells Fargo Center.

They appear uninspired and unprepared lacking the necessary urgency to put an opposing team on its heels.

If the Philly Flu was indeed an illness the opposition acquired during the days of the Spectrum, then apparently flu shots are administered from the moment teams arrive in the loading dock of the Wells Fargo Center.

“That’s not how we want to come out,” goaltender Brian Elliott said after the Flyers fell behind by three goals in an eventual 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche (see observations). “It just seems to happen right now. We have to get that turned around. We’re going to be talking about a few things in the coming days and try to get that turned around when we go on the road to Boston.”

Elliott didn’t elaborate on what needed to be said, but quick starts and playing better in Philadelphia have been hammered home more times than the Flyers care to remember. Surrendering that first goal has become its own epidemic.

The Flyers have trailed 1-0 in eight of the nine games they’ve played this season. Monday night against the Avalanche, it took just three minutes and 23 seconds to fall behind again, and zap the energy of the 19,326 fans in attendance.

They’ve followed the recipe for disaster step by step. On Monday, the Flyers committed a pointless tripping penalty two minutes into the game and gave the most lethal line combination a power-play opportunity against the 29th-ranked penalty kill. 

You see where this is heading.

“We’re working our balls off out there and trying as hard as we can,” defenseman Robert Hagg said. “If it’s one guy’s breakdown, then it’s going to be in the back of the net.”

Among the most unlikely culprits was the Flyers’ top two-way forward Sean Couturier, who left the Avalanche with an extra attacker down low. Mikko Rantanen’s slam dunk rebound goal gave Colorado an early lead it would never relinquish.

“We made a mistake on the broken play,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Instead of collapsing to the net, our top PKer (Couturier) stayed out five to eight feet too high. That’s the difference.” 

The difference between the Flyers and Avalanche right now appears rather obvious. Colorado’s best players are carrying the team while the Flyers’ stars are the ones committing the mistakes. The Avalanche improved to 6-1-2 with one line doing almost all of the heavy lifting. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Rantanen have now scored 12 of Colorado’s last 14 goals.

For the Flyers, Couturier missed an assignment. Claude Giroux’s blocked shot led to a goal. Even leading goal scorer Wayne Simmonds said he’s not doing enough to help out.

It has to start somewhere and the opening drop of the puck is a good place to start.

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Avalanche 4, Flyers 1: Team waits too long to show energy in lackluster loss

Avalanche 4, Flyers 1: Team waits too long to show energy in lackluster loss


The Flyers are thankful they are done with the Colorado Avalanche this season.

The Avs completed a season sweep against the orange and black with a 4-1 win Monday night. Colorado outscored the Flyers 9-3 in the two-game sweep.

The Flyers’ power play continues to struggle as Dave Hakstol’s team lost another forward to injury.

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center: 

• Two things I didn't like on the Avs’ PP marker as the Flyers allowed the first goal for the eighth time in nine games:

1. Nathan MacKinnon worked the puck away from both Ivan Provorov and Robert Hagg along the boards.

2. The Flyers were outnumbered below the dots — four attackers to three PKers. Mikko Rantanen had an easy slam dunk goal as Sean Couturier appeared to be a tad late in helping out down low.

• Jake Voracek said the media didn’t pay attention during the Devils’ game when he said he played like "horse----" in the first two periods before finishing with a three-point game. 

Voracek had his pocket picked early in the first period and forced a pass that led to a turnover later in the first. You won’t see it reflected on a scoresheet, which is why the NHL needs to come up with something like forced errors and unforced errors. Giveaways and takeaways don’t reflect some of the poor play on the ice. 

• I like how Brian Elliott’s game has calmed down after his poor effort against the Florida Panthers a week ago. Elliott was the Flyers’ best player in the first 30 minutes as he made some big saves to keep the deficit to 1-0. I can’t fault Elliott for the power-play rebounds as those shots came from just outside the goal mouth at close range.

• The Flyers weren’t very hard on pucks in the opening period as the Avs outworked them and outshot them 14-11. However, the Flyers didn’t concede anything to the MacKinnon line at 5-on-5 as they kept Colorado’s top line on the perimeter and gave the unit very little from close range. The Flyers controlled play and were the better team in the second half of the game. 

• Colorado came into this game with the third-ranked penalty kill in the NHL despite having to kill off more two-minute minors than any other team in the league. To their credit, the Avalanche clog up the middle of the ice for all entries to the outside and then create havoc by aggressively playing the puck and not conceding any space. The Flyers had six shots with their power play but very little from the high-danger areas.   

• The Avalanche’s third line, which consisted of Matt Nieto and Matt Calvert, simply outworked the Flyers’ top line and the defensive pairing of Provorov and Hagg to score Colorado’s second goal. The unfortunate aspect of the goal is that the Flyers had their longest sustained pressure in the Avalanche zone with some prime scoring chances just prior to Colorado extending its lead to 2-0. It was Hagg who gave up the puck in the neutral zone.  

• The Flyers lost another forward as Michael Raffl was decked hard into the boards by Avs defenseman Patrik Nemeth. He left the game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return to the game.

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