The Tampa Bay Lightning announced that Ryan Callahan will be placed on long-term injury reserve

By Helen Murphy
June 21, 2019 01:08 PM
Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty

Former New York Rangers captain and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan has been diagnosed with a likely career-ending back disease.

Julien BriseBois, the Lightning’s vice president and general manager, announced in a press release on Thursday that Callahan, 34, was diagnosed with “degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine.”

The athlete will be placed on long-term injury reserve, BriseBois said.

In an interview on the team’s website, Callahan said that he had been “dealing with some back issues for a couple years now,” though they grew worse in the past year.

“Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be anything they can do immediately to fix the problem,” he shared. “And that’s never easy to hear when you’re speaking to a couple doctors and all of them agree on the same thing.”

Between his time with the Rangers and the Lightning, the athlete has appeared in 757 National Hockey League games over the course of his career, scoring 186 goals and 386 points. However, it now looks like his time in the sport is over.

“I don’t think a year off or two years off is going to help it to be honest with you,” Callahan said in the team interview. “From what the doctors have said and the way I feel, it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to come back.”

Callahan said that, without the back injury, he would have “definitely” have continued playing in the NHL for “a couple” more years.

“I still love the game, still love playing,” he said. “And the biggest thing is I want to win a championship. I think that’s the hardest thing now is realizing that dream or that chance is probably gone.”

“It’s not the way you want to go out, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to look at your family, your life after hockey too,” he continued. “It seems like this has to be done. It’s unfortunate for sure.”