Yandle, 35, broke the “iron man” record earlier this season, passing Doug Jarvis on Jan. 25 by playing in his 965th consecutive regular-season game at the New York Islanders. The defenseman’s streak began in his third NHL season, on March 26, 2009.
Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo said it was an “organizational decision” to keep Yandle out of the lineup on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flyers are 21-35-11 on the season, 31 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“When you make a decision like this, it’s an organizational decision. It’s made in the best interest in what’s right for the Philadelphia Flyers, going forward,” Yeo said.
Yandle has struggled this season. He has one goal and 15 assists in 67 games, playing to a minus-39 while skating 14 minutes, 20 seconds per game on average, which is his lowest average ice time since his rookie season with the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2007-08. But Yandle remained in the lineup to break the NHL iron man record, and then remained there for 24 games after that.
Now, just 11 appearances short of 1,000 consecutive games played, Yandle will be a healthy scratch.
Yeo said Yandle handled the news “extremely well” despite being disappointed in the decision.
“He received it exactly the way you’d expect Keith Yandle to handle it. Obviously disappointed, which you’d expect from a competitor,” Yeo said. “My only hope is that he recognizes how amazing it is what he’s done. For him, it’s disappointing, no question. No way does this diminish what he’s accomplished. It is remarkable.”
Rookie defenseman Ronnie Attard is expected to slide into Yandle’s spot on the third pairing, as the Western Michigan University product will make his NHL debut. Yeo cited the chance to give young players ice time as the primary reason Yandle’s streak is ending.
“We’re at the point in the season where, as an organization, it’s important that we get some young players in. We have to have an eye on the future,” he said.
Yeo said it’s possible Yandle returns to the lineup after being scratched.
Yandle is an unrestricted free agent after this season.