February 22, 2013
Our house is a Yandle house. Trading Keith Yandle (All-Star defenseman for the Phoenix Coyotes) isn’t something we’re fans of around here. That said, I understand the trade chatter that has been surrounding Yands since before he signed his “big” contract. The Yandle “chip” is great trade bait for some scoring firepower that GM Don Maloney is certainly willing and able to use for the right return.
The dammit Yandle factor is probably the highest thing on most naysayers TY (Trade Yandle) list, whether they admit it or not. Because I have eyes that function, I have uttered those words (and worse) myself on more occasions than I’m happy with. Nearly every time, the forehead slapping play is a turnover in a dangerous area. Whether it results in a goal or an apology to the goalie from Yands, it’s pretty aggravating.
It’s important to remember with the dammit Yandles that they are a necessary evil to get the offensive buzz that Yandle generates. Last year, Keith grabbed 43 points and was a +5 on the ice and was the fourth ranked scorer on his team. The season before he had 59 points and was the second ranked scorer on the team, third in the NHL for defensemen. This year amidst the howls to trade him, Yandle is the third ranked scorer.
On a team like the Coyotes without a lot of offensive firepower, that’s invaluable. People complain less when Smitty commits some bonehead error playing out of the net, but the idea is the same. We wouldn’t trade Schmitty’s (using the Tippett pronunciation) offensive skills to remove those infrequent displays of doofosity with the puck. Yandle should get the same consideration.
How many games has Keith Yandle missed in his Coyotes career? If I’m not mistaken, that number is zero. None. If I’m wrong, the correct answer is a very small number. There’s something to be said for showing up for work faithfully. One of the knocks, and personally I think it’s a legitimate one, against Yandle is his lack of desire to hit people hard. That said, longevity in the NHL for a guy of his physical build versus the power forward type frame of Doan dictated Keith choose his big hits carefully.
Considering the sheer number of games Yands plays in, his ice time per game is also impressive. Keith is running behind OEL this year with 22:46 per game versus Oliver’s 24:48, but it looks like OEL is on his way to a breakout season. Last season it was 22:20 and the year before 24:22. That’s a lot of ice time especially considering the miles covered during those minutes. Even Yandle’s detractors will admit that he is an end-to-end player while criticizing him for pinching when maybe he shouldn’t.
There is nobody on the Coyotes that is more capable of dragging the puck from deep in the defensive zone to controlling it deep in the offensive zone. Somebody, somewhere probably somehow keeps stats for that sort of thing. My statement is based on perception and who the puck is passed to when clutch puck movement is required. If he is on the ice, it’s Yandle.
While he DOES burn himself with errant passes more than any of us like, he also makes more tape-to-tape passes than most others on his team. Again I’ll admit I’m biased and there’s probably not a stat for passes, so my perception could be wrong. Again, though, if I’m wrong it’s not by much.
If you’ve been watching #3 grow as a hockey player over the years you have noticed him working on his game. Early on, there were considerably more “dammit Yandle” moments with errant passes hitting the opposing player on the tape with nobody back. He reduced those through work, I’ve seen him be the last guy off the ice at the Ice Den staying even after Doaner is gone. Last year it looked, to me at least, as if he was concentrating on staying in a defensive posture much more than yielding to the temptation of using his speed down the ice.
Keith Yandle is 26, he has plenty of time to finish tweaking his game. If he plays as long as Nik Lidstrom, he’s got another 16 years to tune what he does on the ice.
Yandle wears the “A” well. Not many people dispute that we’re lucky to have the best Captain in the NHL. Yandle has designs on the “C”, I imagine, and he’s doing what must be done to earn the “C” once Shane Doan decides to hang up his skates. I believe he, Yandle, has made a concerted effort to emulate Doaner in lots of little ways, although the “F” bombs Yandle tosses are NOT “Frick”.
Next time you’re at the rink for a game, pay attention during the National Anthem(s). Watch Shane Doan bow his head a bit, stand stock still without any “keeping warmed up” jiggling for the entire song. In fact, he won’t skate off his position if he’s on the ice until the color guard breaks their attention and begins heading off the ice. Doaner, as the Captain, doesn’t insist the rest of the team follow suit, he just sets that example if they choose to follow. Now watch Keith Yandle do the exact same thing (he does move around a little once in awhile). Just a little thing.
The faux wrestling belt that gets passed around the players? That was Yandle’s idea with, if I’m not mistaken, some inspiration from Barbs. Just a little thing. Who is the guy with the stupid high and low hand cellys after the game? Yandle, just one more little thing.
As a fan, there’s lots of leadership things I’ll never see because I don’t play and I don’t have the access reporters do. Since the team is made up of adult men, though, the obvious respect people have for Yandle must have been earned, it wouldn’t happen just because he’s got a letter on his shoulder. Certainly at least a little of the improvement that OEL shows each season must be attributable to keeping his eye on what Yandle does, right?
And, as we found out Wednesday on the Roc and Manuch show, a couple of Keith’s uncles are the “Hoppah” guys in the commercial. So that’s a wicked pissah.
We should keep him around just for that!