A recent return to the lineup for Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle
has been a positive step in the development of the one-time Canadian Major Junior defenseman of the year.
With a newfound confidence, Yandle, a healthy scratch for four straight games this season, has assisted on four goals in the five games he has played since returning to the lineup on Nov. 8.
“When I was sitting out, I told myself that when I do get in the lineup, I’ve got to play to stay in the lineup,” said Yandle, who has a goal and seven assists in 12 games this season. “I do what I can do to help the team.”
Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky likes the offense Yandle brings to the team.
“He is a little bit more offensive then a lot of the other guys we have,” Gretzky said. “When he does get in the lineup, he has this energy.”
Since his return, Yandle has been paired with veteran defenseman Ken Klee, whom the Coyotes picked up off of waivers from the Anaheim Ducks in October.
Keith is obviously a great skater. He can get up in the play and he has offensive talent. - Ken Klee
“Keith is obviously a great skater,” said Klee, who has an assist in eight games with the Coyotes this season. “He can get up in the play and he has offensive talent.”
Klee has taken it upon himself to try to show Yandle how to be a consistent professional in the NHL.
“As a young player, one thing they are lacking is confidence and consistency and that’s what I am trying to help him with,” Klee said. “As an older guy, I tell him to relax and that we will be OK as long as we use each other.
“That’s kind of my role as an older guy, to kind of help young guys with confidence and consistency. That’s what makes a good NHLer and a good pro, so that’s what I am trying to help him with.”
In the few games they have played together, Yandle has learned a lot from the 37-year-old Klee.
“He’s a wily vet,” Yandle said. “He helps me out … it has been good playing with him. He teaches me a lot and knows a lot about the game. He talks to me throughout the game and after the game, so it’s good.”
Yandle said he is learning how to stay in the lineup.
“I think I was a little too aggressive last year,” Yandle said. “I have tried to be simple and jump in the play.”
That simplicity will help Yandle progress as a player.
“It’s about knowing the right time to jump and reading the situation, and that comes with experience,” Klee said. “As a young guy, he wants to do more. Especially when you are young, sometimes you try to do a little too much. I am trying to make sure we take care of our end and be efficient with the puck.”