As he reaches record, Yandle shows he's an ironman with a 'love for the game'


Oftentimes you'll find Keith Yandle acting like a youngster.

Not in an immature, childish way.

In a harmless, love-for-the-game kind of way.

Yandle is 35 years old but plays hockey as if he's a kid again with his buddies back in Milton, Massachusetts.

He doesn't take the game for granted. And he doesn't take playing in games for granted. 

So much so that he'll break Doug Jarvis' NHL record for consecutive games played when the Flyers visit the Islanders on Tuesday. It will mark Yandle's 965th game in a row, a streak that dates back to March 2009.

"The love for the game and having fun," Yandle said last Sunday. "At the end of the day, we're playing a game that we all dreamt of playing growing up."

A day before he was set to match Jarvis' ironman mark Monday night, Yandle stayed on the ice after practice officially ended. He got in extra work and then gathered the pucks into an equipment bag with some of the younger players like Cam York, Max Willman and Jackson Cates, as well as depth defensemen Nick Seeler and Kevin Connauton.

Putting pucks away tends to be an unwritten job description for lesser established players.

Without hesitation, Yandle took part and slid the bag across the ice.

"I remember Ray Whitney said to me when I was young, he said, 'As long as there's an NHL symbol on your jersey, that means you're having a good day,'" Yandle said. "I haven't taken that for granted.


"We play in the best league in the world with the best guys. It's truly a blessing to put on an NHL uniform every day."

Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

When Yandle signed with the Flyers during the summer to a one-year, $900,000 deal, he joked that he suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out).

Following a practice in early November, he stood behind the glass and watched his teammates take shot attempts. He pumped his fists and pounded on the glass when they scored.

Guess he didn't want to miss out.

"He's one of my favorite teammates I've ever played with," Kevin Hayes said earlier this month. "He's a grounded human who understands what hard work is. He's just a consistent human on and off the ice, you know exactly what you're going to get from him. He's probably the last guy that wants to talk about this streak. But it's arguably one of the most impressive streaks in hockey.

"Everyone wants to score goals, everyone wants to get a ton of points, but to play 900-and-something straight games with bumps and bruises I know I go through and I know that my teammates go through, just knowing that you have to get out there for your teammates. Whether it's a broken foot or broken hand or MCL stuff, he's out there and he's giving it his all."

Yandle and Hayes are close friends, going back to their Boston roots and days as teammates with the Rangers.

"It's been an honor being his friend and his teammate," Hayes said. "He's never the one to talk about this streak, he never does; it's always us bringing it up. It's a really cool accomplishment. It's going to be a special moment for him. It just shows the consistency that he has in his life."

Much of that consistency is the result of his wife Kristyn's hard work. On just a one-year deal at 35 years old after being bought out by the Panthers, Yandle has lived with Hayes this season instead of relocating his family.

As he has climbed to the NHL ironman record this season, he has had to spend time away from his wife and their two daughters Mila and Lola.

"The wives, they don't get the credit that they deserve," Yandle said. "Mine's been amazing the last 15, 16 years. She's held it down at home, taking care of the kids every day, doing as much so I don't have to worry about really anything except for going to work and playing hockey. Definitely doesn't ask for any credit or want any credit, but she's definitely the backbone to our family. The reason why I've been able to play is her holding down the home front. Definitely grateful to have her."

All supporting a love for the game.

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