This week, a record was broken, a legend was honored, and a mascot made their debut. Plus, the Sabres ran out of goalies! It’s all in this edition of Snap Shots.
1. Yandle Plays 965th Consecutive GameWe start this week with a record that took 35 years to break! On Tuesday, January 25, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle set the record for most-consecutive regular seasons games played. It was his 965th regular season game in a row. He broke the previous record of 964 consecutive regular season games, which was set by Doug Jarvis in 1987.
Playing 965 games in the NHL is a huge accomplishment. Playing 965 games in a row is amazing — even more so if you consider that Yandle is a defenseman who has blocked the puck 1,026 times as of Sunday (per Hockey Reference), and has done so without getting hurt. He has also managed to not get scratched from the lineup, sidelined with any kind of injury, or forced to miss games due to COVID-19.
Including games before his streak, Yandle has played in 1,076 games, but if he plays the next 34 games for the Flyers — he played another game since setting the record — then he will have played 1,000 games in a row. One thousand games in a row has a nice ring to it; let’s hope Yandle pulls off that feat, too.
2. Rangers Retire #30 to Honor LundqvistHenrik Lundqvist, the greatest goaltender in New York Rangers history, had his jersey number 30 retired by the Rangers last Friday. Lundqvist played 15 seasons for the Blueshirts and is the team’s all-time leader with 459 regular season wins. He is also sixth all-time for wins among all NHL goaltenders, and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender in 2012.
“King Henrik” is the 11th player to have his number retired by the Rangers. Other former Rangers who also have their numbers retired are Ed Giacomin (1), Brian Leetch (2), Harry Howell (3), Rod Gilbert (7), Andy Bathgate (9), Adam Graves (also 9), Mark Messier (11), Vic Hadfield (also 11), Jean Ratelle (19), and Mike Richter (35). Many of these former Rangers attended Lundqvist’s ceremony, which was nearly an hour long.
You can watch the ceremony in its entirety in the video above. If you’d prefer to just hear Lundqvist’s speech, skip to 35 minutes in.
3. PHF Unveils New Mascot
January 27 was my birthday (yay!) — but it was also the day that the Premier Hockey Federation revealed its new mascot, Goal E. Tender. The cute, fuzzy, purple goalie critter made their debut in this short animated video.
Some mascots are great, some are bad, and some are just okay, but Goal E. Tender is fantastic! Sick glove hand, too. (Note that Goal E. Tender uses gender neutral pronouns they/their.) Goal E. Tender is cute enough that they will appeal to children, but has enough swagger that adults will also like them. Goal E. Tender was created by high school student Corwin Dickson, who is an artist and also plays goalie, for the PHF’s mascot design contest. You can learn more about the artist and contest at the PHF website here.
Related: Puck Junk Podcast #100: The Best and Worst NHL Mascots
4. Goalie Woes in Buffalo
The goaltending problems in Buffalo have gotten downright comical. As of Saturday morning, the team did not know who they would start for that evening’s contest against the Coyotes in Arizona. Aaron Dell was suspended three games for illegally body checking Senators forward Drake Batherson, who was injured as a result.
Then Michael Houser — the team’s sixth-string goalie — tested positive for COVID and couldn’t play. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Malcolm Subban, and Craig Anderson were all injured, while Dustin Tokarksi was still feeling lingering effects of his bout with COVID.
Fortunately for the Sabres, Anderson was able to play in Arizona on Saturday, with Tokarski backing him up. Then on Sunday in Colorado, Tokarski got the start, while Anderson backed him up. Still, the Sabres were pretty darn close to using an EBUG (Emergency Backup Goaltender), since every goaltender under contract was injured, sick, or suspended. Either that, or breaking out a “Shooter Tutor.”
5. Evander Kane Makes Return with Oilers
After a season that has been plagued by problems, winger Evander Kane made his debut with the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday and scored a goal. This comes after being suspended by the NHL for submitting a fake vaccination card, getting demoted to the AHL, being suspended by the AHL for violating that league’s COVID policy, being investigated for both domestic abuse of his wife and betting on NHL games — substantial proof of either was not found — and ultimately had his contract terminated by the Sharks, who wanted nothing to do with him. Those first few things may have been a blow to Kane’s oftentimes-oversized ego, but having his contracted terminated cost him $22.5 million.
Kane did a lot of stupid things. He submitted a fake vaccination card because he wasn’t vaccinated. Then, when he was in the AHL, he contracted COVID but still traveled over the border to Canada for Christmas. He then stated that he didn’t know that he did something wrong.
What rock has this guy been living under?
But Oilers General Manager Ken Holland thought that Kane could help his struggling team. He told ESPN:
“I believe in second chances. It’s hard to be perfect. We’re all people. We all make mistakes. Some make big mistakes. Some make little mistakes. But it’s hard to be perfect. … [Everyone] should be entitled to a second opportunity once they do some of those things.”
Uhhh, Ken…you do know that Evander Kane is 30 years old, and should probably know better by now. Also, did you check his references with the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres, and/or the San Jose Sharks? There are reasons that both teams got rid of him.
That all said, I want Kane to succeed with the Oilers. He’s a talented player who has scored 507 points in 770 games. Kane has also scored 20 or more goals in the past six seasons. And, at just age 30, he still has a lot of good years ahead of him. Maybe the Oilers can help straighten him out…and he can help straighten out the Oilers.
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Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■