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Flyers’ Keith Yandle has played final game of memorable career



Philadelphia Flyers, Keith Yandle
Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle, shown in a game against Dallas earlier this season, is expected to retire. (AP)


Keith Yandle, the Philadelphia Flyers defenseman who this season set an NHL Iron Man record —  989 straight games — played for the final time in his memorable career Friday.

Flyers defenseman Nick Seeler confirmed it on Saturday.

Yandle was not available after the Flyers dropped their season finale to visiting Ottawa, 4-2. He was scheduled to address the media Saturday but declined.

Following the game, Yandle was congratulated by the Senators near their bench. He then hugged his teammates en route to the locker room.

Yandle, 35, a three-time All-Star, had a difficult season. He had just one goal and 19 points — the lowest full-season total in his career — and finished with a league-worst minus-47 rating.

But he added professionalism to the locker room and was adored by his teammates.

“Right til the end, he did everything he could for his teammates,” Philadelphia Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo said. “We had him read the starting lineup tonight (in the locker room), and the guys were fired up and came out with a good start.  I don’t know that I’ve been around another player that is loved by his teammates the way that Keith is. And obviously, there’s the streak, which was amazing to be a part of that. We’re all very grateful to have been a part of that.”

Streak stopped

Yandle was benched April 2 against Toronto; it was the first game he missed in more than 13 years, dating back to March 22, 2009, when he was with the Phoenix Coyotes.

“The ending of the streak was very difficult,” Yeo said. “I can tell you for myself, obviously being very involved in that situation, I have a great deal of respect for the way Keith handled it. He was a great professional. He continued to treat me and everyone else with a ton of respect, and continued to work and do his job, so I think that says a lot about who he is.”

Veteran left winger James van Riemsdyk, who led the Flyers with 24 goals this season,  became close with Yandle in the defenseman’s lone season in Philadelphia.

“He’s been incredible as a guy to be around,” van Riemsdyk said. “I remember even my first year in the league, I didn’t really know him, but I played at the same college (New Hampshire) as his brother. Keith was actually supposed to be at UNH when I was there, so I remember in my first (NHL) year, he kind of gave me a little welcome to the league and had a real funny joke on the ice, and I never even had met him before.”

Added van Riemsdyk: “Any time I’ve crossed paths with him since then, he’s always been a class act and a great guy, and now getting a chance to play with him and sit next to him on the plane, I consider him a great friend — and one of the best teammates I’ve ever had a chance to play with. I can’t say enough good things about him and what he’s done over the course of his career.”

Yandle, a Boston native who who lived with Kevin Hayes this season, also played with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers, and Florida Panthers in his 16-year career.

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