A new NHL ironman has been crowned, as Las Vegas Golden Knights forward Phil Kessel played in his 990th consecutive game to break the NHL record.
The veteran winger took to the ice on Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks to break his tie with defenseman Keith Yandle for the longest streak in league history.
The truth is… he is Ironman. pic.twitter.com/6dFYA6LTXX— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 26, 2022
The streak began way back in 2009, when Kessel was on the roster for the Toronto Maple Leafs and in the last 13 years in the NHL, he's played for just 4 other teams. Kessel left his rookie club the Boston Bruins to join the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2015, where he cracked Craig Adams club record of 320 consecutive appearances and received numerous honours, including the Stanley Cup in his first season. From there, Kessel moved to the Arizona Coyotes in 2019 where he continued his active streak.
During this time, on April 2, 2022, Philadelphia Flyers coach Mike Yeo removed Keith Yandle from the lineup, officially ending his iron man streak at a record 989 straight games.
Yandle held the streak for 9 months after breaking Doug Jarvis' previous mark of 964 back-to-back appearances.
A few months later, Kessel signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Vegas Golden Knights. And on October 24, 2022, Kessel appeared in his 989th consecutive game in the league which tied Yandle's streak. During the game Kessel put his 400th puck in the back of the net, but the goal was called back due to offside.
On the loss of his potential milestone goal, Kessel told reporters "it is what it is. We scored right after, so it didn't matter."
I've played a lot of games, and you always want to win... There's games you're going to miss throughout your career, but I've been fortunate so far.
Phil Kessel to ESPN
Little did he know, he'd have to wait just over a day to hit the milestone. On October 26, 2022, Kessel made his 990th appearance to take the record for consecutive games played and topped off the night by scoring his 400th goal in the first period in San Jose.
Yandle posted a video tribute to Kessel in which he said:
To play in even one NHL game is a remarkable achievement but to play in every game going back 13 years takes unbelievable talent to stay in the line-up day in and day out, tremendous determination to play through aches and pains, and a whole lot of luck. It's nice to see the record in your hands, a fellow American, an all-time great guy and a guy I can call a friend.
Despite the fact he continues to dominate on the ice, and 1000 games is looking almost certain, who knows when the streak will end - honouring the legend that is Phil Kessel only seems right.
With Phil Kessel ironman week in progress, I want to take a second to throw it back to this slow-mo clip of maybe the nastiest modern snapshot that hockey has ever seen. The jump, the weight transfer, the 70-flex stick fighting for dear life to propel the puck without breaking pic.twitter.com/jYksOAj1OF— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) October 25, 2022