Florida Panthers defenceman Keith Yandle to play Sunday
Keith Yandle’s 866 consecutive-games played streak is the active leader in the National Hockey League.
That was in jeopardy last week but as of Sunday morning, Florida Pathers head coach Joel Quenneville confirmed that Yandle would play Opening Night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Quenneville said he particularly liked Yandle on the power play and that is what earned him a spot in the lineup.
“Did the power play look that good or did the power play not look that good before,” asked Quenneville after morning skate when asked about Yandle. “Maybe it’s a combination of both.”
The veteran leader is someone that the locker room looks up to in Sunshine, Fla., and Quenneville acknowledge that his teammates had his back throughout the entire training camp.
“I commend everybody in the situation,” Quenneville said. “It was probably a tough situation when you look at not getting an opportunity. We have to make some tough decisions along the way but he handled it, he moved forward, he controlled what he could control and that was to make himself the best he could and ready as possible.”
Yandle, 34, made his NHL debut with the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2006-07 but he didn’t become a staple in the lineup until 2010-11 when he was named an alternate captain.
He was dealt to the New York Rangers during the 2014-15 season and signed with Florida ahead of 2016-17. He is one goal shy of 100 for his career.
On Sunday night, the Panthers will open at home as one of three teams who are selling tickets and allowing a fraction of fans in the building.
“It’s an opportunity for him to play,” Quenneville continued about Yandle on the power play. “We didn’t give him many chances prior to that… We want to make sure he gets off to a positive start.”