The Ironman Burden is real, but the Philadelphia Flyers had no reason to flex on the idea of meritocracy by scratching Keith Yandle and ending his consecutive games streak.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: The Philadelphia Flyers’ decision to scratch Keith Yandle after 989 consecutive games– it was playing out perfectly for him to go 1,000 straight games before the end of the season, then they could wipe their hands clean of him. But they decided to scratch him anyway in order to get a prospect named Ronnie Attard into the lineup. And Ronnie Attard went minus 4 in 15 minutes against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. JULIAN MCKENZIE: Sheesh. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: In place of– in place of Keith Yandle. So that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Yes, Keith Yandle had missed a game 450 games ago. This wouldn’t be a story, obviously. Because it wouldn’t mean anything. But this league is a meritocracy. You have to earn your position. So this is the conundrum that Iron Man streaks provide. And I wrote about it when Keith Yandle actually passed Doug Jarvis earlier in the year, about the Iron Man burden, and what it does to teams, and how teams have to sort of respect it but toe the line and figure out what is actually most important in the moment. And for Philly, it’s hard to argue that anything is more important than Keith Yandle’s streak. Because they are a second to last place team. They are awful. They have no business really trying to achieve anything else but this nice story, right? Like, they’ve already traded their captain. Like, you’re trying to save face? I don’t know how you save face. But this would at least be something that they can look forward to. And of course, they made the decision to get a prospect in the lineup over him. And I get both sides of the argument. But when you have nothing else to play for, and this guy has been a good employee, and is at the point where he can get to a nice round number, and you could cut [? bait ?] after that, and it can all be over, and it doesn’t mean– they got themselves into this themselves. They’re the ones that picked him up from Florida after he was bought out. So they knew what they were getting into. And they still made the decision anyway, despite these games not being important to have him not play. So in that, the way I frame it there, it doesn’t look good. But again, it is a meritocracy. So where do you stand on this? JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, the Flyers don’t have anything to play for. So I don’t get why they did this. I mean, it’s one thing to be like, you know what? The games don’t matter, let’s put a prospect, did. But why– it’s still not clear to me why Keith Yandle had to be the sacrificial lamb to make that work, knowing that he had the streak that he had. And if you just let him play a few more games, you let it get to that round number, as you mentioned. Yeah, I don’t understand that. I don’t get it. If the Flyers were in a position where they could still make the playoffs and Keith Yandle was really holding them back from doing so, then I would understand. But the Flyers have been bad all year. Why are you now making that decision to take him out of the lineup? What is that going to serve, to have this prospect Ronnie Attard play– geez, minus 4 in 15 minutes. That’s– geez, that’s tough. But it clearly didn’t work for them to do that. So yeah, I don’t get why they would want to do that in the situation. I don’t get what purpose it actually serves. You have nothing to play for beyond better draft lottery odds. And if you really feel that putting in Ronnie Attard as opposed to Keith Yandle helps you get better draft lottery odds, even if it comes at the expense of what could be, like, a good– like a somewhat decent thing for Flyers fans to follow at the very least, I don’t know, man. I think the Flyers– the Flyers were bad enough they didn’t have to do any of this. So yeah, I disagree with that. And I don’t like the idea of him being scratched out of the lineup that way. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: It almost seems like a desperate attempt to, like, assert or show that you have power or authority. Like, why else? Like, Yandle has held– and Yandle hasn’t held it over teams deliberately. But the only reason why this streak remains is that the streak was intact already, right? JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Florida wanted to scratch him last year. And Yandle just wanted to play. He just wanted to do his job. He just– whatever. Like, he just– and I guess the team stepped up. They’re like, hey, why are you scratching this guy? He’s got a thing going. You should keep him in the lineup. He stayed in the lineup the entire year, 56 games, for the Florida Panthers, who went to the playoffs for the first time in not forever, but it’s a rare occurrence. Or it had been a rare occurrence, them going to the playoffs. And he got scratched immediately in the postseason. I think he actually did play the first couple of games. Scratched, very quickly because he wasn’t– he didn’t earn his spot in terms of the– he didn’t earn his spot. The meritocracy worked against him. But his streak was the reason why he stayed in the lineup. His streak was the reason why he found a home, probably. And now Philadelphia is like, oh, no. Like, you don’t run things here. We actually run things. We’re a “real” organization. And we’re going to put a “real” prospect into the game because he might put us in a position where we can have better results. Of course it didn’t work out that way. Keith Yandle has been one of the worst defensemen in the NHL. But Ronnie Attard is not ready to give you anything better than that at this point in his career. And yeah, I guess you want those development games when they don’t really matter. But guess what? This guy is not going to be a game-changer for you. And if he was, you probably don’t even want to put him in this position where he’s going to be a part of a losing environment. JULIAN MCKENZIE: No, I don’t think so. And yeah, man, congratulations to the Philadelphia Flyers for showing that they’re a real team. And showing, hey, they’re a real organization. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: And Mike Yo is a real coach in this chance to be a coach again. JULIAN MCKENZIE: He’s a real coach. Oh, yeah, man, the Philadelphia Flyers, last in the Metropolitan Division, 21-36-11, 53 points. That’s some real organizational stuff there. You really showed us that you’re a real organization and you’re doing some really great things. The Flyers stink. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yes, they do. JULIAN MCKENZIE: They stink. They suck. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: And they deserve, for how they’ve operated, to have this blowback. When they could have easily had this nice PR moment, 1,000 games at the end of the season. You maybe have your last game not suck. Maybe you don’t lose your last game, or at least overall on the night because you were able to celebrate a pretty cool achievement. The next one we should watch here– and again, I wrote about the Iron Man burden– you can find it on Yahoo, on my Twitter because I shared it recently– is Phil Kessel. Phil Kessel has actually also passed Doug Jarvis, I believe. JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Or at least very close. He is going to pass Keith Yandle, likely. Well, Keith Yandle’s streak is now over at 989. So Phil Kessel is probably going to keep playing. He’s probably going to play next year and pass Yandle. But what’s going to happen then? Because the next team that puts Phil Kessel the lineup, hey, we all thought he was going to go somewhere at the deadline. He didn’t. Why? Because they probably didn’t want to have to promise him that he’d be in the lineup every night, if we’re being honest. It costs a lot. Yes, but do you want to trade for a guy who’s going to be, like, no, I need to be in the lineup. I’m going to be in the lineup because I have this streak going. So who’s going to go next year and sign Phil Kessel? Is it going to be Arizona? Because do they want the PR thing? They can use it, I guess after, Jay Beagle. But are they going to want to put him in the lineup every night? Thankfully for them, or for whatever team does pick up Phil Kessel, maybe they can convince them after 1,000 games, after setting the record, after passing Yandle, after hitting that round number, that, hey, it doesn’t really matter. Let’s rest you a little bit. Because I think Phil Kessel could be an asset to a team. But do I think he could play 82 games? He definitely has proven that he can play 82 games. JULIAN MCKENZIE: Actually, yeah. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: But can he be a dominant force? Can he be very good? Can be at his best for 82 straight games? I don’t think so. He’s in that sort of part of his career where a night off, a couple of games off would help him. It was the same for Patrick Marleau. He refused. It was the same probably for Keith Yandle. He didn’t want it. He didn’t want that. It’s a problem. JULIAN MCKENZIE: I guess. Yeah. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: It’s a problem, these guys that build Iron Man streaks, they’d be better off sitting. And that’s the irony of all of it. JULIAN MCKENZIE: Down with these Iron Man streaks. How dare we celebrate longevity in the National Hockey League? How dare we– JUSTIN CUTHBERT: And I’m speaking out of both sides of my mouth because I’m like, they should play them. But also, if you didn’t have this, maybe you’d have a better situation in your career right now. JULIAN MCKENZIE: It would be healthier. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: It’s weird thing. JULIAN MCKENZIE: The team might not be the last place of their division. And you might not be the worst at your position. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Or you might be out of the league because you’re not good enough. And the only reason why they got you is because they wanted to keep this Iron Man streak going for you. JULIAN MCKENZIE: Ooh. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: That might be the thing with Yandle. That might be the thing with Yandle. JULIAN MCKENZIE: Don’t hit us with the truth, Justin Cuthbert. Don’t do that. It’s too early in the morning to record this podcast to do that. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, Patrick Marleau– Patrick Marleau is still denying that truth, I think. Although he got what he wanted, which was Gordie Howe’s record. And not a Stanley Cup. OK. Let’s go to the [INAUDIBLE]. JULIAN MCKENZIE: Not a Hall of Famer, like we established on that one podcast. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Did we? JULIAN MCKENZIE: I said what I said. We did. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I think I’m sort of anti-Marleau too. I mean, just overall. So I feel like I’d be in that camp as well. I’d have to go back and– JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, I don’t know. JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I guess I should have my thoughts, like, not wavering. But whatever.