Vegas Golden Knights winger Phil Kessel started his 989th consecutive NHL game on Monday. Heading into the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kessel would tie Keith Yandle for the league’s “Iron Man” mark.
The feat will be achieved by Kessel against one of his former teams, the Maple Leafs, with whom he spent six seasons from 2009 to 2015. Kessel’s current series began with Toronto against the Tampa Bay Lightning on November 3. 2009.
Doug Jarvis’ record of 964 games stood from 1987 until January, when Yandle broke the record. Yandle, who retired earlier this month, saw his record end later last season with 989 games in total.
Jarvis has never missed a game in his career, unlike Yandle – who has appeared in a total of 1,109 games – and Kessel, who will play his 1,211th career game on Monday night.
Kessel admitted to NHL.com that he played despite several discomforts during this sequence, which also allowed him to win two Stanley Cups while he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.
“There were a lot of them,” Kessel said of the minor injuries. “But I always thought, ‘Damn it. I’m going to go out there and play, because I like to play.’ I’d rather play than sit in the stands.”
“Yeah, there’s some luck involved,” added Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy. “At the same time, what he is about to do is to his credit. ”
If Kessel takes the record Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks, he could keep it for at least several years.
Among active players, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brent Burns has the second-longest streak at 684. Columbus Blue Jackets forward Johnny Gaudreau is next on the list with a streak of 301 games. almost five full seasons behind Kessel.