'Phenomenal teammate' Keith Yandle the NHL's all-time iron man

Morgan Rielly says you can appreciate Keith Yandle's crazy ironman streak more and more the longer you play in this league and see the grind, and hopes former teammate Phil Kessel can also chase down the record.

Queue up The Avengers theme song because when Keith Yandle steps onto the ice for his first shift Tuesday at UBS Arena, he will officially become the NHL’s iron man.

The Philadelphia Flyers defenceman skated in his 964th consecutive regular-season game Monday night to tie the league record set by Doug Jarvis three-plus decades ago.

Yandle will break the record Tuesday against the New York Islanders on Long Island. The historic game is available for hockey fans to watch on SN NOW at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT.

Jarvis broke the previous record held by Garry Unger on Boxing Day 1986, which happened to be less than three months after Yandle was born. Jarvis’s streak was slightly different in that the former Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals and Hartford Whalers forward didn’t miss a single game throughout his career that spanned 13 years.

Yandle, a fourth-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2005 who hasn’t missed a regular-season game since late March of 2009, said he “tried to keep it as normal as possible” leading up to Monday’s puck-drop but appreciated the tribute he received at Wells Fargo Center during a 3-1 loss to the Dallas Stars.

“When I saw the guys standing for me, cheering, all the fans, it definitely meant a lot,” Yandle told reporters Monday. “It’s one of those things that your teammates, the guys that you play with, guys you play against, when they congratulate you and tell you that they’re proud of you and stuff like that it hits home. It means a lot. It’s definitely a nice thing.

Yandle, who humbly stood and waved while the crowd recognized his record-tying appearance, added: “I’m not really a guy that likes to talk about myself or have the spotlight on myself.”

Yandle’s streak is the longest by a defencemen and that’s a record that should last quite a while. The second-longest streak by a defenceman is Jay Bouwmeester’s 737-game run from 2004-2014. The second-longest active streak among blueliners is Brent Burns’s streak of 639 and counting.

Phil Kessel is also approaching Jarvis’s mark, having skated in 940 consecutive games since 2009. Kessel began his streak roughly seven months after Yandle started his.

Yandle’s 1,074 total regular-season games played ranks 35th all-time among U.S.-born skaters and 14th among American blueliners. He ranks top-40 in points and top-30 in assists by defencemen regardless of nationality.

“It's an incredible accomplishment,” Mike Yeo, Philly’s interim bench boss, told reporters Monday prior to his team’s 12th consecutive loss. “You have to love the game and you have to be able to battle through sickness, injuries. A level of professionalism to come to the rink every day and be ready to go. And he's a phenomenal teammate.”

The Flyers have 40 games remaining on their schedule, so hypothetically, Yandle could reach 1,000 consecutive games played come late April.

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