ELMONT, N.Y. — Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle became the NHL’s new “Iron Man” on Tuesday night, skating in his 965th consecutive regular-season game to break Doug Jarvis’s all-time record.
Yandle set the record when the puck was dropped for the opening faceoff against the New York Islanders. According to the NHL, all he needed to do was take one shift for the appearance to be official. After the opening faceoff, he tapped his stick once on the ice and skated back to defend the Flyers’ goal. The Islanders won, 4-3.
Yandle’s streak began in his third NHL season, on March 26, 2009. For his career, Yandle has now played in 1,075 games with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers and the Flyers, who signed him as a free agent last offseason.
Jarvis, a forward, didn’t miss a regular-season game from his NHL debut on Oct. 8, 1975, with the Montreal Canadiens through the end of the streak on Oct. 10, 1987, with the Hartford Whalers. He officially set the record on Dec. 26, 1986, when he played in his 915th straight game to pass Gary Unger’s benchmark.
With 12:36 left in the first period, the Islanders PA announcer told the crowd that Yandle had just set the record for consecutive regular-season NHL games. Fans applauded and cheered, about half of them standing to celebrate the achievement of a visiting player. Yandle skated out from the Flyers bench and raised his stick to acknowledge the ovation and the moment.
Yandle had tied Jarvis’s record of 964 straight games in the Flyers’ loss to the Dallas Stars in Philadelphia on Monday night.
“To be honest with you, it’s not something I talk about too much,” said Yandle after the game, regarding the record. “It’s one of those things where I kind of get comfortable. I’m not really a guy who likes to have the spotlight on myself. If guys do talk about it, I try to change the subject.”
The achievement was announced to Flyers fans during the first period and was met with cheers. “It wasn’t really something I expected. Then I saw the guys cheering for me, standing up and all the fans … it hits home. It means a lot and it’s a nice thing,” Yandle said.
There were close calls. The streak was threatened when the Florida Panthers considered making him a healthy scratch at the start of last season. Yandle had several teeth knocked out in a Nov. 2019 game and required extensive dental work but returned that same night wearing a full-face cage and then played the following afternoon.
“It’s how hockey players are built. You play through as much pain as you can. There have obviously been some times when I have not felt great, when it was tough sledding. But you try to battle through it and help out your team,” said Yandle on Sunday.
Despite hundreds of NHL players missing time in the last two seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yandle never missing a game because of league protocols, either.
Entering Tuesday night against the Islanders, Yandle has 13 points in 42 games for the Flyers. His 15:09 on ice average per game was his lowest since the 2007-08 season with the Coyotes. Yandle said his family were in attendance for the record-setting game, including his mother and father.
With Yandle atop the leaderboard now, there’s another player with an active streak right behind him that will shift into the league’s focus: Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel, 34, who played in his 941st consecutive game on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. His streak started on Nov. 3, 2009.