Flyers

Ironman Yandle sees a 'stud' in Hart, a win-now chance with Flyers

Flyers

Keith Yandle has played in 1,032 career NHL games and in 922 straight, the league's longest active streak.

He has seen a lot of goalies.

He played with Henrik Lundqvist in New York, Roberto Luongo and Sergei Bobrovsky in Florida and Mike Smith in Arizona.

When Yandle had the final two years of his contract bought out by the Panthers last month, Kevin Hayes put on his recruiting hat.

An obvious part of Hayes' sales pitch: Carter Hart.

Two weeks ago, Yandle signed a one-year, $900,000 contract with the Flyers, joining his close friend Hayes.

What does he think about Hart?

"He's a stud," Yandle said July 28. "He's a guy when you think of young goalies in the league, you think of him. A guy that I'm definitely excited to play in front of. Just from talking to guys on the team, especially Kevin and the guys, you hear that he carries himself like he's a 10-year vet. I'm excited to work with him and to play in front of him. Definitely one of those guys that when you look at signing with the Flyers, you see how good of a goalie they have — that's a big thing."

Hayes and Yandle are from Boston and train together in the summer. Hayes has always spoken highly of Hart ever since the center signed with the Flyers in June 2019. Hart, who just inked a new three-year, $11.937 million deal and turns 23 years old on Friday, is excited about the Flyers' revamped look on the back end.

 

The Flyers could have three new defensive pairs when they open the 2021-22 season. Yandle's chance to reunite with Hayes and head coach Alain Vigneault was important, but general manager Chuck Fletcher's active offseason also caught his eye.

"I think seeing what Chuck's done even before free agency and making moves, making big moves, just helping the team get better — I thought it was a no-brainer for me," Yandle said. "It just seems like it's a win-now situation and that's something that I'm all about. I thought it was the best fit."

With the Panthers last season, Yandle played 17:15 minutes per game. At this point of his career, he'll have a lesser role. Possessing a high IQ offensively, Yandle projects to be a third-pair guy with the Flyers while contributing on the man advantage. Defensive depth is crucial at the NHL level, an area in which the Flyers struggled last season. Yandle gives them an experienced guy who knows how to prepare day in, day out.

"I see myself as a power play guy, a guy that can help out getting pucks to the forwards," Yandle said. "Obviously, seeing how good the forwards are in Philly, it's an exciting thing to see that and hopefully be able to pass to those guys. ... Obviously, you can't score every power play, but it's getting momentum for your team, staying positive. I definitely take pride in that."

Yandle turns 35 years old in September and hasn't been on a team that has won a playoff series since 2015, when Vigneault's Rangers lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Yandle was a March trade deadline acquisition of the Rangers and Hayes was a rookie.

At the time, Yandle was building his current streak of consecutive games played.

"Obviously a lot of luck, great trainers, good doctors, everything that the NHL provides us," Yandle said of his run. "I think it's just my love for the game, as well, I love coming to the rink, I love going to practice, games, being at the rink. It's the best job in the world, so for me, it's one of those things, I call it a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out). I hate missing out on anything, especially when it's with your teammates. For me, it's just wanting to be there and to be able to help out."

If Yandle appears in 43 straight games to begin the upcoming season, he'll pass Doug Jarvis' NHL record of 964 played in a row. Yandle's focus, though, is winning and playing well in front of Hart.

"I haven't talked to Chuck about that stuff," Yandle said about coming to the Flyers with the record at stake. "It's one of those things where I'm a team player, it's all about the team. I don't really think too far ahead. It was just getting the best fit for me and a chance to win. Ultimately, that's why I went with the Flyers."

 

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