Ryan Callahan on schedule for mid-November return
Twelve Lightning players - and head coach Jon Cooper - will be heading to their respective camps for the World Cup of Hockey next week.
Wing Ryan Callahan should have been one of them.
But Callahan, a two-time Olympian for Team USA, had to pull out of the international tournament in late June due to late hip surgery, which is expected to sideline him through the first month of the season. The World Cup runs from Sept 17-Oct. 1 in Toronto.
"It's really tough," Callahan said Tuesday by phone. "It's definitely disappointing that I'm going to miss that. Anytime you get to represent your country, it's something special. And to be in the World Cup is something I've never experienced before."
The good news for Tampa Bay is that Callahan's recovery from the surgery - which repaired a torn labrum in his right hip - is "on schedule." He plans to start skating next week when he reports to Brandon for informal workouts, ahead of training camp that opens Sept. 22.
Callahan said the timetable is for him to return in mid-November, but he hopes it'll be sooner.
"It's such a long estimated timetable that there's obviously variation in there," Callahan said. "Some guys come back a little bit earlier than that, some guys it's five months. If it's before then, then great."
Callahan, who had 10 goals and 28 points in 73 games last season, said the injury started bothering him in January. Perhaps not coincidentally, Callahan had an 18-game goal drought that month, which was snapped in mid-February. The hip forced him to sit out a few regular season games, but none in the playoffs, when he had two goals and four assists in 16 games.
"I've never had hip issues before that, it was a sudden thing," Callahan said. "It came out of nowhere and progressively got worse.... Everyone plays through injuries. I wasn't 100 percent, it is what it is."
Callahan said he hoped the injury wouldn't require offseason surgery, so he tried rehabbing after the Lightning was eliminated in the Eastern Conference Final. But after it didn't respond, he chose surgery June 21 in New York. "Couldn't go through another year of it," he said.
Callahan is excited about the Lightning's offseason, specifically re-signing captain Steven Stamkos and extending defenseman Victor Hedman. Callahan, an alternate captain and good friend of Stamkos, got a phone call heads up from the All-Star center before he signed June 29.
"I don't think I was really surprised," Callahan said. "I was hopeful that he would sign back, he's such a huge part of it, being the captain, one of the best players in the league. You never really know which way those things are going to go. I knew he wanted to be in Tampa. At the end of the day we're a much better team with Stammer on it, there's no question.
"I think him coming back really shows too how committed everyone is to winning, how bad the team wants it and how close we feel we are. We're right there."