VOORHEES, NJ — Keith YandleThe NHL’s game-high streak came to an end at 989 when the Philadelphia Flyers defenseman was knocked out healthy for a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Yandle last missed a regular season game on March 22, 2009 as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes.
“I don’t really know if it hit me completely,” Yandle said before the game. “I don’t know yet, I don’t know when it will be. It’s kind of one of those things during, I haven’t really tried to think about it too much, just kind of go out and play. Maybe -be now the next day or two, it might hit me.
“Obviously something I’m very proud of. I’m lucky to play a game in this league. I say it all the time, I’ve been lucky to be in this league for as long as I have. done. I owe pretty much my whole life in this league. It’s been a great journey too. You look back and think about your first game, and then it’s one of those things that the last two days have been a lot of thought and I’m not really an over-thinking type.”
Flyers coach Mike Yeo said it wasn’t easy telling Yandle he wouldn’t be in the lineup against the Maple Leafs.
“He received it exactly the way you would expect Keith Yandle to handle it,” Yeo said. “He’s nothing but a phenomenal pro. He handled it really well. Obviously disappointed, which is what you’d expect from a hockey competitor and player who’s been doing it for as long as he’s been. the fact.
“My only hope is that he recognizes how incredible it is what he has done. Of course, for him, it’s disappointing without a doubt. But few people can say they did something no one in NHL history has ever done. so that in no way diminishes what he has accomplished. It’s remarkable and certainly something we can be extremely proud of.
With the Flyers eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Yeo said it was necessary to see what they had in some of their young players. Defender Ronnie Attard made his NHL debut in place of Yandle and posted a minus-4 differential with two hits in 15:33 of ice time.
“What went into the decision, we’re at the point in the season where as an organization it’s important that we get young players,” Yeo said. “That’s not to say we’re not playing hardball with what’s going on right now, but obviously we have to have an eye on the future and what’s coming up, to give new guys an opportunity.”
Yandle passed Doug Jarvis to become the NHL’s Ironman when he played his 965th consecutive game on Jan. 25.
“My mindset is to improve in practice, work on things and try to get back in the lineup and help the team win games,” Yandle said. “I know it’s the end of the year and we’re out of it [the playoff race], but build something for these guys next year where you can start the summer feeling good with yourself and with the team, trying to prepare. I think that will be my goal.”
Yandle has scored 15 points (one goal, 14 assists) and averaged 14:20 of ice time in 67 games this season. His minus-39 rating is the worst in the NHL. Yandle has played in 57 consecutive playoff games but was a solid out for the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup first round last season. He was also taken out for Games 4 and 6 in the loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“You understand that, we’re going to talk about it,” Yeo said. “Scratching a player is always hard because, No.1, you care about your players and you see what they’re going through…they want to play, they’re competitors. Obviously ‘Yands’, it’s very difficult to strike him out…. Obviously Yands being the great teammate that he is and certainly given the streak he is… it’s just amazing how he’s been able to do that. It’s truly an accomplishment unbelievable. So yes, it was very difficult, without a doubt.
Yandle’s streak began on March 26, 2009 with the Coyotes. The 35-year-old also played for the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers.
“Obviously when you make a decision like this, it’s an organizational decision,” Yeo said. “That’s what we think is in the best interests of the Philadelphia Flyers going forward. That’s for tonight. That doesn’t mean ‘Yands’, maybe he’ll play tomorrow. [at the Rangers], maybe he plays the game after that, I’m not sure. That’s the decision we made tonight, and that decision is made in the best interest of what’s good for the Philadelphia Flyers. »
Yandle said he understands the decision to give younger players a chance to enter the roster.
“It’s just one of those things that you know is going to happen towards the end of the year when you hire young guys and get free agents out of college, they’re going to give them a chance to play,” said said Yandle. “You have to respect that from a business perspective and what they’re trying to do here. For me, it’s keep coming to the rink and helping the kids, being a good teammate and being here for the guys.”
Yandle said his teammates have supported him throughout the season and streak.
“They felt bad for me,” he said. “They wanted me to play, they wanted me to continue. But it’s like I told the guys, it’s part of the business. You have to understand what the team is doing here. But having the guys there -in it and their support, the words that they said to me, it was really, really special.”
Arizona Coyotes forward Phil Kessel has the longest streak played in the NHL at 968. He passed Jarvis when he played his 965th consecutive game on March 25.