A former Blueshirt found fortune yesterday. The “Captain” Ryan Callahan resigned with the Tampa Lightning for the next seven years, worth close to 39 million dollars, averaging close to six million each season. Also, he has a no-trade clause for the first four years of his contract.
Ironically, the Rangers offered much the same contract, as the Lightning. However, when trying to negotiate an extension after the Olympic break in the early part of 2014,negotiations failed. The Rangers captain was traded to the Lightning in exchange for their captain, Martin St. Louis.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Ryan Callahan offers grit and determination, when he steps on the ice every night. There is no denying his hard work ethic, sacrificing his body to block a puck, and disregard for his own safety by throwing himself at opponents. He plays at 100 percent on every shift, and never takes a play off. Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman had this to say when interviewed by NHL.com: “He’s proven to be a fierce competitor and outstanding leader who fits very well with our team.”
He is a homegrown talent of the Rangers organization that finally made it. For years, he and countless others were neglected by the constant spending sprees of free agents that had just passed their primes of their careers, or already had. It was a revolving door of “has-beens,” with some notable exceptions such as Jaromir Jagr and Wayne Gretzky. Many would be signed to bloated contracts and too many years such as Scott Gomez, Wade Redden, Chris Drury, and Bobby Holik to name a few.
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However, Ryan Callahan was one of the original Rangers. He was part of the first wave of talent New York could call their own. Other talents such as Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi were the cornerstones of the future. As we saw them come up in the ranks, they began to develop an identity for the city. No longer were they the Bad News Bears.
Instead, they took advantage of their opportunity and seized it. Play hard, stand your ground.
Soon Ryan Callahan became the face of the franchise. Outside of Henrik Lundqvist, he was “the man.” For three seasons, starting in 2011, Callahan served as the team captain inheriting the honor after Chris Drury retired after the 2010-2011 season. He was the overwhelming choice, as he led by example. Every night, he lit up the Madison Square Garden crowd with his “no holds barred” play on the ice. He could be found blocking a shot, launching into the other team’s players to finish a check, or give that patented “fist pump” when he scored a goal. He could light up a stage and bring a crowd to life.
“”He’s proven to be a fierce competitor and outstanding leader who fits very well with our team.”-Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman
There are so many lasting memories of Ryan Callahan with the Rangers. It’s impossible to list them all: his first career hat trick against the Philadelphia Flyers as he scored four goals in a 7-0 rout, his famous block of Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara’s slapshot where he broke his ankle and missed the rest of the season, or his overtime game winner against the Carolina Hurricanes that gave the Rangers a playoff berth during the 2012-2013 season.
Here is a video montage of Callahan’s days in Ranger blue, compliments of JC Graphic Designs (@JCGraphicDesign/@metrangerfan711):
“Tampa Bay has been a great place to live and play from the day I got there. As soon as the season ended I knew it was a place I wanted to be.”- Ryan Callahan to NHL.com
With his decision to stay in the sunshine state, the next page has turned for everyone. For the Rangers and its fans, a new crop of talent has given reassurance that life goes on. A new leader will inherit the captaincy. For the Lightning and its fans, we hope you have your own Callahan-memories to witness.
Enjoy the ride!
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports