To hear Ryan Callahan explain it, he knew the possibility of playing somewhere other than New York was out there — he just never thought it’d come to fruition.
“Yeah, I wanted to stay there. I thought I was going to. The whole time in my head I never thought about getting traded or leaving at free agency time,” Callahan told New York’s WFAN Radio on Wednesday. “My goal was to get something done with New York.
“Unfortunately, it’s the part of the business that’s not fun.”
Callahan was flipped to Tampa Bay at last Wednesday’s deadline in exchange for Martin St. Louis, a blockbuster that marked the first captain-for-captain deal in trade deadline history. Reports claimed a rift between Rangers GM Glen Sather and Callahan’s camp regarding money and term on a new contract led to the deal — Callahan is a UFA at season’s end — but recent remarks suggest he always figured he’d stick around.
Callahan had worn the “C” in New York since inheriting it from Chris Drury at the start of the 2011-12 campaign, and it’s worth noting that serving as Rangers captain is serious business. Callahan was one of just five players to serve over the last 23 years, joining the likes of Drury, Mark Messier, Jaromir Jagr and Brian Leetch.
Because of that, it’s easy to see why Callahan thought he’d be a Ranger for years to come. At 28, he’d already spent his first seven NHL seasons in the Big Apple and endeared himself to fans with his gritty, hard-working style of play.
“Just from playing at the Garden, the fans there are just unbelievable; you know, how they treated me and how they accepted me,” Callahan explained. “I think the biggest thing always if the friends I’ve made, lifelong friends within the organization, teammates that I’ve played with.
“There’s a lot of good memories in New York and something I’ll miss.”