Ryan Callahan retires a true warrior who left everything on the ice

Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images) /

Ryan Callahan has officially announced his retirement from the NHL.

While he hasn’t played for a year, Ryan Callahan took to Twitter today to release a statement confirming that he is indeed hanging up the skates after a long and successful career in the NHL.

Sidelined since June 2019 when he was told by Doctors that he had a degenerative back disease, Callahan’s announcement to retire shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

Callahan would have needed fusion surgery in order to be able to fix his back but he wouldn’t have been able to play hockey after, so the 35-year-old had no choice but to retire.

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The major positive is that Callahan no longer needs fusion surgery in order to function on a day-to-day basis, which is obviously great news and the best possible outcome.

It is always tough when a player can’t retire on his own terms, as was the case with New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk a couple of months ago, but Ryan Callahan’s legacy will remain intact.

Drafted No. 127 overall in the Fourth Round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers, Callahan quickly established himself as a fans favorite, giving it everything he had every single shift.

It was no surprise then that the right winger was eventually named Captain of the Rangers, playing a vital role in their run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011-12.

Callahan was a fearless warrior on the ice and he could always be seen throwing his body in the way of a flying puck, paying little attention to the harm and danger he was putting his own wellbeing in.

He gave everything he had in every single shift and left every ounce of blood, sweat and tears out in the arena he truly thrived in.

Callahan was adored by the Rangers faithful and he was one of New York’s favorite sons because he represented everything the City was all about.

After all, Callahan wasn’t a flashy or highly-skilled player by any means, but he gave it everything he had and worked his skates off for the good of his team.

He was built like a featherweight but played with the heart and soul of a true pound-for-pound heavyweight.

And, as a diehard New York Rangers fan myself, there was nothing better than watching Ryan Callahan at his peak, eating pucks, throwing opponents into the boards with unrelenting force and coming up clutch in the biggest moments as a true Captain would.

He represented every single one of us out on that ice.

Callahan recorded 254 points (132 G, 122 A) in 450 career NHL regular season games for the New York Rangers, in addition to putting up 24 points (14 G, 10 A) in 59 postseason games.

It was a common sight to see Callahan block shot after shot on the penalty kill, somehow scoop the puck out of the zone before hobbling back to the bench, hurt but satisfied knowing that he had once again put his body on the line for the good of the team.

Cherished at Madison Square Garden, it was somewhat of a shock then when, on the morning of March 5, 2014, Callahan found out he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning as part of the blockbuster Martin St. Louis trade.

It was a deal that sent seismic waves throughout the hockey world and Callahan had to quickly work out how he was going to replace a hero in St. Louis in Tampa, while coming to terms with the fact that he had just been traded by his hometown team.

After all, St. Louis had won a cup with the Lightning and was seen as a god there, but it didn’t take long for Callahan to strike up a strong bond with the people of Tampa Bay just as he had done with the Rangers.

Ryan Callahan (24)
Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Callahan quickly became an Alternate Captain with the Lightning and he was huge as they began to make a plethora of deep postseason runs, lighting a fire under his team and dragging them into the fight.

He recorded 8 points (2 G, 6 A) in 25 games as Tampa Bay lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2014-15 Stanley Cup Final, while Callahan finished his Lightning career with 132 points (54 G, 78 A) in 307 career regular season games, in addition to 15 points (6 G, 9 A) in 62 Stanley Cup Playoffs games.

In total, Ryan Callahan skated in 757 career NHL regular season games with 386 points (186 G, 200 A), and 20 goals and 19 assists for 39 points in 121 career postseason games.

Most impressive, though, is the 626 blocked shots and the 2,147 hits he piled up during his career in the regular season, a perfect illustration of exactly the type of player Callahan was.

And, while his career didn’t end in the most graceful of ways with his contract being dealt to the Ottawa Senators in the summer of 2019, after waiving his No-Move Clause no less, Callahan will always be adored by both the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

His Foundation – the Ryan Callahan Foundation – which raises money for families of pediatric cancer patients, will continue to be a big fixture in Tampa while Callahan has also impressed as an analyst on the NHL Network, showcasing the intelligence that made him such a valuable player on the ice.

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But, whatever Ryan Callahan decides to do next, he will always be remembered for being a fearless warrior on the ice, one who always put his body on the line, played with incredible bravery and was the heart and soul of every team he was a part of, in addition to being a true leader who just demanded respect.

Those types of players just don’t come around very often.

Best of luck in your retirement, Ryan Callahan.