Bored elephant is the new active NHL Iron Man.
It is a fact that became quite clear when the Philadelphia Flyers scratched Kate Yandel after 989 consecutive games. But the name “Iron Man” comes with something else – the need to maintain function on the ice, not just physical health.
While many opposed Philadelphia Flyers coach Mike Yeo and criticized his decision to scrap Yandel in favor of rookie Rooney Atard, Yandel’s performance declined for a while, and Yeo preferred organizational success to personal popularity.
“It is important that we recruit a few young players,” said Flyers coach Mike Yeo at the time. “We have to look to the future.”
Yandel’s performance this season could have already been in the press, and if it weren’t for his streaks, it could have happened sooner. Yandel has the worst +/- league and is offensively far from his 62-point season in 2018-2019 as a member of the Florida Panthers. This year, this veteran has only one goal.
Yandel will enter the off-season this season as a free agent with no restrictions, with no guarantee that the 35-year-old will be recruited by the team.
At the end of Yandel’s game, the torch went to another unlimited free agent named Phil Kessel.
Kessel can’t catch Yandel this season. If he plays the year without losing a game, boredom will reach 980 consecutive games. He has to play the first 10 games of the 2022-2023 season to break Yandel’s mark.
However, it could not have ended in advance because of his NHL assist, which was different from Yandel in Philadelphia. When Kessel’s girlfriend, Sandra, gave birth on March 9, Kessel was ready to let go of her life to prepare for the birth of her first child. Instead, the coyotes dressed up as bored, played her for a shift, and then chartered a flight from Detroit to Phoenix in time for boredom to welcome her daughter into the world.
Different treatment of two veteran players raises the question: What is the responsibility of an NHL team in helping veteran players maintain or achieve a milestone or record?
In 2011, Mike Modano experienced a similar fate to Yandel. Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock sat in the 1499 Professional Games to make Modano a healthy scratch to end his season and career, preventing a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame from reaching an important milestone. That season, Red Wings locked his place in the playoffs.
This year, the Philadelphia Flyers saw their hopes come and go in the playoffs, and Kate Yandel witnessed the disappearance of her NHL active record.
As Mike Yeo put it in his decision to scrape Yandel: “This is what we feel is in the best interest of the Philadelphia Flyers in the future.”
That night, instead of Yandle, Attard played his first NHL game. Mercury, Fliesers’ third-round pick in 2019, recently signed with Fliesers after spending his youth season at the NCAA with Western Michigan. Atard went negative 4 in his first game. Was it too early for him to jump? Maybe, but Yeo did something he thought was very reasonable for his hockey club.
Each franchise, the Arizona Coyotes and the Philadelphia Flyers, did what they thought was best for their club. Finally, neither had the responsibility to help Kasel or Yandel maintain their Iron Man traits. Arizona, which desperately needs talent and body for next season, may have wanted to show the league that it is a team that takes care of its players. This could include making an offer to Kasel, who is still a top striker in the six teams to maintain his services. Philadelphia, on the other hand, have no interest in keeping Yandel and could drop more veteran players in the off-season to begin rebuilding.
As for the bored future, he will have options to continue playing next season. He could stay in Arizona for more money or move on with a team friendly. This may mean a return to past dance floors, such as Boston or Pittsburgh. If roof space allows, he could also join a contender looking for new equipment such as Colorado or Florida.
Wherever he ends, boredom will turn into consecutive NHL games, a record 10 games in the 2022-2023 season. That is, unless his game is reduced and he finds himself in a healthy scratch.