Last season, Patrick Marleau broke a record that some expected to withstand the test of time when he broke the all-time games played mark. Today, another record that had stood for a long time was broken when Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle suited up in the starting lineup against the Islanders, his 965th straight game played, surpassing Doug Jarvis who had held the record since 1986.
Yandle is in his 16th NHL season and hasn’t missed a game since March 26, 2009, back in his first full season. But getting to this point hasn’t been without its challenges as he was very nearly made a healthy scratch in Florida at the start of last season but managed to play in every game, albeit in a more limited role than he was accustomed to.
After the Panthers bought the 35-year-old out last summer, he signed a one-year, $900K contract with Philadelphia (that holds full no-trade protection) with the hopes that he could add some firepower to their back end. That hasn’t happened, however, as he has just 13 assists in 42 games while his playing time has dipped to just over 15 minutes a night, nearly six minutes below his career average.
While Yandle has the record, there’s definitely a chance that his benchmark – which should continue to grow in the coming weeks – won’t be the top one for as long as Jarvis held his record. Coyotes winger Phil Kessel is suiting up in his 941st career game tonight and while he obviously won’t make up any ground as long as both are playing every game, the veteran winger is a year younger and is still fairly productive which could give him a chance to catch Yandle at some point.
But that chase is for a later date. At this moment, Yandle stands alone with the ironman record and if he continues to play in every game for the Flyers this season, he’ll crack the 1,000 consecutive games played mark in April.