Mike Yeo defends benching Keith Yandle

Mike Yeo defends benching Keith Yandle

The Philadelphia Flyers have already been eliminated from playoff contention and don’t have much to play for with 15 games left in the current campaign. Which is why so many were left puzzled on Saturday evening when the team announced that Keith Yandle would not be included in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs – ending his record-setting iron man streak at 989 games, just 11 short of the 1000 mark.

Speaking to reporters, head coach Mike Yeo explained his reasoning prior to his team’s 6-3 loss on home ice to the Maple Leafs.

“It’s important that we get some young players in,” Yeo said, via SB Nartion. “We have to have an eye on the future…Everybody wants to make sure that we finish the season strong, finish the season the right way. We want to make sure that we keep building for the future here, and if that means get some young guys in here, then that’s what we have to do.”

The Flyers were able to provide 23-year-old Ronnie Attard with his NHL debut as a result of benching Yandle, but many fans believe there was still a way to get both in the lineup. Yeo did make it clear how significant the 35-year-old veteran’s streak was, even though he ended it agonisingly short of 1000 games.

“My only hope is that is that he just recognizes just how amazing it is, what he’s done,” Yeo stated. “It’s truly an amazing accomplishment. So, it was very difficult, no question. He is nothing but a phenomenal pro. He handled it extremely well. Obviously disappointed, which you would expect from a competitor and a hockey player that’s been doing it for as long as he has.

“Not many people can say that they’ve done something that nobody in the history of the NHL has ever done. In no way does this diminish what he’s accomplished. It is remarkable, and certainly something to be extremely proud of.”

The previous record for most games played consecutively was held by Doug Jarvis, who played 965 games in a row. That record was broken by Yandle earlier this season.

The defenseman signed with the Flyers prior to the start of the 2022 campaign, after playing five seasons in Florida with the Panthers. He only signed a one-year deal worth $900,000 with Philadelphia, so it looks increasingly likely that he will not be back with the Flyers next season. It remains to be seen whether he will decide to try and sign with another team or call it quits and retire after having his iron man streak ended.

Yandle was originally drafted 105th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes and spent 10 years with the organization, before being included in a massive trade with the New York Rangers that saw the likes of John Moore and Anthony Duclair head the other way. He was with New York less than two full seasons before heading to Florida.