Veteran wing Ryan Callahan wishes he was reporting next week to Team USA's camp for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.
Instead, Callahan, 31, is heading to Tampa to skate for the first time since his late June hip surgery. The procedure, which repaired a torn labrum in his right hip, forced Callahan to pull out of September's World Cup and will sideline him through the first month of the Lightning season.
The good news for Tampa Bay is Callahan's recovery is on schedule. A mid November return to the Tampa Bay lineup is a target, maybe sooner. He was expected to miss five months after June 21 surgery in New York.
"It's such a long estimated timetable that there's obviously variation in there," Callahan said Tuesday by phone. "Some guys come back a little bit earlier than that, some guys it's five months. If it's before then, then great."
The World Cup runs from Sept 17-Oct. 1 in Toronto, with Callahan, a two-time Olympian, originally selected for Team USA. Twelve Lightning players, including captain Steven Stamkos (Canada) are participating, as well as coach Jon Cooper.
Callahan's hip had bothered him since roughly the middle of last season, early January, but he played through it. He had 10 goals and 28 points in 73 games, missing just one of 17 playoff games (due to the flu).
"I've never had hip issues before that, it was a sudden thing," Callahan said. "It came out of nowhere and progressively got worse. … But everyone plays through injuries. I wasn't 100 percent, it is what it is."
Callahan hoped to avoid surgery, and a five-month recovery, with rehab after the Lightning was eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final in late May. But after his hip didn't respond, Callahan decided to get it fixed.
"Couldn't go through another year of it," he said.
Even if it meant skipping the World Cup.
"It's really tough," Callahan said. "It's definitely disappointing that I'm going to miss that. Anytime you get to represent your country, it's something special."
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.