Callahan: 'It feels good to just feel healthy again'
BRANDON – Ryan Callahan dashed around the ice Monday morning. He called out the drills as he and a handful of teammates participated in a pre-training camp workout.
He joined the rush. He crashed the net.
He shot. He scored.
“It feels good to just feel healthy again, to be honest with you,” he said afterwards.
The Lightning forward played only 18 games last year in a season that was delayed because of offseason hip surgery, interrupted because of residual pain than ultimately cut short as he underwent a follow-up procedure in February.
“There’s no question last year was a very tough year for me physically and mentally,” Callahan said. “The biggest thing for me was to have this entire summer to train and train the way I want to to prepare for this season. That’s been nice. Going out there and not having any limitations and feeling the way I do is very encouraging and refreshing, too. It’s mentally refreshing to be able to go out there and play the way you want to play.”
Callahan underwent surgery June 21, 2016 to repair a labral tear in his right hip. He spent the rest of the summer rehabbing from the surgery.
He said he was on the ice this offseason a week after the regular season ended in April. That enabled him to resume his typical summer training as he prepares for his 12th season.
“I’m glad (the summer of rehab) is behind me,” he said.
Callahan’s injury was one of the more serious in a Lightning season defined by injuries. Center Steven Stamkos, who had his season cut short because of knee surgery, was the biggest.
The Lightning, with the lineup filled with young players, made a late run at a playoff spot but came up short. That only made Callahan’s situation feel even worse.
“You want to help them,” Callahan said. “You want to be a part of it, that’s the biggest thing, especially at the end of the year when they made the push. Things are getting close and tight down the stretch. You want to be a part of that. You want to be on the ice helping the guys.”
When asked just how frustrating it was to miss nearly the entire season because of an injury and then see his team come up short in the playoff chase, Callahan said, “It’s tough to put into words, to be honestly with you. It was a very, very long year. It was tough. I never had a year like that before. It was very challenging, but at the same time what made it a little bit easier, unfortunately for him and the team, was having Stammer out, too.
“We spent a lot of time together where you could at least vocalize your frustration and bounce it off somebody else, who’s going through the same thing. That made it a little bit easier.”