Ken Yackel was born March 5, 1932 in St. Paul, Minnesota. A three-sport star from Humbolt High School in St. Paul, he graduated in 1949 and was later part of the 1952 United States Olympic Team that captured the silver medal.
As a member of the University of Minnesota Gophers, Yackel was a WCHA First Team All-Star in 1954-55-56. The 1953-54 season saw him play a major role for the Gophers at the NCAA Tournament where he was recognised as All-Tournament Team and NCAA West First All-American Team.
One of two American-developed players to appear in the NHL during the 1950's with the Boston Bruins (in 1959), Yackel spent some time with the Cleveland Barons and Providence Reds of the AHL as well as Saskatoon-St. Paul of the Western Hockey League.
In 1960-61, he joined the Minnesota Millers of the IHL where he captured the Leo P. Lamoureux Trophy (as top scorer), and earned a spot on the IHL First All-Star Team. A career high in goals (50) in 1962, earned Yackel a spot on the IHL First All-Star Team for the second consecutive season. The Millers reached the finals in 1963 before losing to Fort Wayne. His second 100-point season in three years earned him a spot on the IHL Second All-Star Team.
Yackel also spent some time behind the bench, as coach of the Edina Hornets High School team in 1956-57, the U.S. National Team at the 1965 World Championships, and as an interim coach for the Gophers in 1971.
Following his playing days, Ken Yackel devoted much of his hockey interests to the advancement of the John Mariucci Inner City Hockey Association, a program designed to encourage hockey development among inner city youth.