There are records that exist at the NHL that will never be touched unless something dramatically changes how the game is played. For every Connor McDavid who can score 120 points in a normal season, there are 31 other coaches looking for ways to shut him down at every turn. And while scoring points in one season may be one of those “never again” records, the man in the Philadelphia Flyers jersey above has achieved something that very few players will ever approach in today’s game except, perhaps, one player who is with him step hold. What needs to be said is Keith Yandle’s new record is pretty impressive when you hear it.
Hockey is a game of bumps, bruises, tweaks, pulls, sprains, sprains and general soreness that accumulates. For defenders, add the added bonus of blocking shots – either through their own volunteer work or because smallpox hits them while defending – and those bumps and bruises can accumulate even faster. If you’re a defender like Keith Yandle who scores a bunch of minutes and plays against the other team’s top players, there’s probably a laundry list of aches and pains that will make him want to take a night off.
The last time Keith Yandle did not dress for a game was March 22, 2009. The Phoenix Coyotes, coached by Wayne Gretzky, scratched Yandle that night in favor of these defenders against the Anaheim Ducks: Ed Jovanovski, Dmitri Kalinin, Ken Klee, Zbynek Michalek, Kurt Sauer and David Hale. The Ducks would have thwarted the Coyotes’ penalty goals and scored three power play goals in the third period to turn a 3-2 lead into a 6-2 victory. This would be the last time Keith Yandle watched any match from the press box.
He would start the next game against the Edmonton Oilers and replace David Hale in the series as the Coyotes seemed to bounce back after that defeat against the Ducks. He played 14:32 in that game – the least of any of the Coyotes’ defenders – but finished with a +1 rating when the Coyotes scored a 3-2 victory over the Oilers. This would be the first match in the “Iron Man” series he would tackle!
4,688 days later, Keith Yandle now played in 965 consecutive games, breaking the point set by Doug Jarvis between October 8, 1975 and October 10, 1987. Jarvis’ series came to an end when the Hartford Whalers sent him to the AHL’s Binghamton. Whalers. However, Yandle’s series looks like it will continue until the Flyers feel he can not help them win or Yandle decides he needs an evening off. None of those situations seem plausible at this point, so that record of 965 games will continue to build, and there’s a chance he’s able to score 1000 games this season with the remaining games left on Philadelphia’s calendar!
To put this in perspective, here are the staggering numbers Yandle has picked up since the series began with Phoenix:
- Yandle’s series started more than 12 years ago.
- Yandle was traded from the Coyotes to the Rangers on March 1, 2015, but played for the Rangers in his 448th consecutive game the following night.
- The four players who went from New York to Phoenix in the deal – John Moore, Anthony Duclair, Oliver Kylington and Dennis Cholowski – together played 1217 games in the NHL, just 252 more than Yandle’s current series!
- Yandle’s first game as a Rangers defender was against the Nashville Predators. He was a -1 in 19:41 of ice time in a 4-1 New York win over Nashville.
- Yandle would be traded from the Rangers to the Florida Panthers on June 20, 2016, where he would perform for his 552nd consecutive game on the opening night of the Panthers’ 2016-17 schedule against the New Jersey Devils.
- The two players who went to New York in the agreement – Scott Reedy and Tyler Wall – only played five games together in the NHL.
- Yandle’s opening night in 2016 saw Yandle score 25:35 on ice in a 2-1 Panthers victory.
- Yandle left Florida as a free agent after playing 922 consecutive games, and signed with Philadelphia on July 28, 2021.
- Shane Doan played more than any other player with Yandle – 420 games.
- Yandle scored 572 of his 613 points during the series.
- Yandle skated 25,091 innings ahead of tonight’s game against the Islanders.
- Yandle scored 20,877 minutes during the series.
- Yandle blocked 940 shots during the series.
- Yandle played the most against the Dallas Stars during his series – 47 games against the Stars!
- Phil Kessel may be the only player who has a chance to break Yandle’s series one day at this stage, having skated in 941 consecutive games since 2009.
It’s quite astonishing to think that Keith Yandle has not missed a day of work in 12 years. Yes, there may have been interview days here and there where an exercise was skipped, but I’m pretty sure the guy deserved it after not filming a game for over a decade. We know the value of rest when needed, but the fact that Yandle continues to play at a high level for so long without a break is a statement about his commitment to his own health and well-being.
965 games and tel. It’s a heckuva record, and it’s one that will almost certainly never be broken. There’s only one person who can catch Yandle at some point, and that’s the man on the right and mentioned above: Phil Kessel. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Phil Kessel since he broke into the NHL, Kessel should in no way underestimate. If you take a night off against Phil Kessel, he’s going to make you pay.
As it stands now, Keith Yandle holds the record for most consecutive games played, but he apparently cannot take a day off unless Phil Kessel does. I applaud both of them for having good health as they want almost 1000 consecutive matches each because I want to see these stripes last as long as humanly possible!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!