VOORHEES, N.J. – Keith Yandle currently possesses the second-longest ironman streak in NHL history but the Flyers’ newly-acquired defenseman says he still takes his career day-by-day.
It’s probably a healthy attitude to have because thinking too far ahead can take one’s eyes off the prize – which is a Stanley Cup, rather than worrying about missing a day of work.
Yandle has played in 922 straight games, second only to the 964 played by Doug Jarvis back in the 1970s and 1980s. Third is another retired player, Gary Unger (914), followed by the still active Patrick Marleau (910) and another active player, Phil Kessel (900).
Although neither Flyers coach Alain Vigneault nor Yandle have made public any plans to keep Yandle in the lineup regardless of the level of his play, it’s pretty safe to say it probably will take an injury to end the streak.
“I’m a day-by-day guy,’’ Yandle said during an interview at the Flyers Training Center. “Everything in my life and I am sure my wife hates that about me. I am a minute-by-minute, don’t like to plan anything, see how it goes guy.’’
Yandle was told Rod Brind’Amour once played a Flyers record 484 consecutive games, battling through a host of injuries as well as getting a little luck. Is that pretty much the way it’s gone with the 34-year-old Yandle?
“I would say a lot of luck,’’ Yandle said. “I think every guy once you get to this level has the same type of compete and will to play. You want to be out there every day with your teammates, and I think for me I have been fortunate. I love coming to the rink whether it is practice day or game day. You love being here with the guys. The training staff and stuff like that I have had have been great and it is the same here.’’
Of course, with any streak there are some close calls.
“The one that was probably the closest — we actually played in Boston then we played in Philly the next night,’’ Yandle recalled. “I took a puck off the heel and it was unbearable how painful it was. That night I remember being in my hotel room with two of the trainers working to just get it moving until two or three in the morning. I woke up and was able to move it a little bit. Once I got it in the boot, it was okay enough to go. Like I said earlier, thanks to the trainers.’’
Justin Braun, Yandle’s projected partner for the upcoming season, admires the accomplishment. It’s nearly 12 seasons of hockey without a game off.
“That’s unbelievable,’’ Braun remarked. “The fact that he hasn’t had to sit out any time yet is truly amazing. Bumps and bruises, broken bones and everything that comes along the way.’’
Yandle played for Vigneault when the two were together with the New York Rangers some six years ago. Having a coach in your corner, so to speak, should help alleviate any confusion or mixed emotions about the streak.
Vigneault announced his goaltender rotation for both Tuesday night’s preseason opener at the Wells Fargo Center against the New York Islanders as well as the second game at Boston on Thursday.
Carter Hart and Martin Jones will split the first two periods of each game (order of appearance yet to be determined) and two rookies, Felix Sandstrom and Sam Ersson, will see action in the third periods.
It looks like Hart and Jones will split starting assignments for the last four games.
>Three players returned to junior teams
On Monday, the Flyers returned three players to their junior teams: Defenseman Ethan Samson now back with Prince George (WHL); right wing Connor McClennon now back with Winnipeg (WHL) and Jon-Randall Avon now back with Peterborough (OHL).
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