Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan says hip problem finally fixed

Ryan Callahan
Ryan Callahan
Published April 3, 2017

TAMPA —Veteran Lightning wing Ryan Callahan admitted that he wondered if his lingering right hip injury might be career-threatening.

"I think it's human nature for that to creep in your head when you're dealing with something for so long," Callahan said Sunday. "At the same time, you hope the trainers and doctors will find out what's going on. And luckily, we did."

Callahan, 32, believes he is finally on his way back from the issue that has derailed nearly his entire season. He skated Sunday for the first time in months, joining the optional morning skate before the game against the Stars for 15 minutes. Though Callahan won't return in the final four games of the regular season, later in the playoffs is a possibility if the Lightning makes it.

"If we go far enough, I definitely could go back and play," Callahan said.

RELATED: Lightning keeps playoff hopes alive with win over Stars

More important, Callahan, who has three years left on his contract, is confident the hip will not be a long-term issue. He said a procedure Feb. 22 revealed why he continued to have discomfort after the labrum was repaired in June. The issue was scar tissue and a stitch that had fallen off the labrum and onto a bone.

Now that the problem is fixed, Callahan said, he should at the least be back to his old self for next season.

"One hundred percent," Callahan said. "I should have no lingering issues from this at all."

Callahan has been limited to 18 games (two goals, two assists) this season because of the hip. He made his season debut Oct. 30, but with the hip bothering him, Callahan was sidelined Nov. 28-Jan. 3.

Then, after coming back for three games, he was shut down again Jan. 8, the team hoping a month of strengthening the hip would bring him back. Scans on the labrum were fine. That's what made the problem so puzzling.

"It's been the most frustrating year I've ever been a part of," Callahan said. "A couple times I felt like I've been back, ready to go, only to have a setback. It's been a tough year, no question, especially right now, the team fighting for a playoff spot. You want to be out there."

Stamkos' call

C Steven Stamkos (knee surgery) did another long morning-skate workout Sunday but did not play in the 6-3 win against the Stars. If Stamkos returns in the final four games of the regular season will be his call. The Lightning trusts Stamkos, who has overcome a broken leg and a blood clot in the past few years, to determine when he's good to go.

"Stamkos has been through some extremely serious injuries the last few years," coach Jon Cooper said. "The one that's the best judgment and probably the only judgment that really matters is him. If he's not feeling right, he can't go."

Injury carousel

C Tyler Johnson (lower body) and D Jason Garrison (lower body) returned to the lineup against the Stars, but Garrison's night ended in the second period out of fear he'd aggravated his injury. Johnson had missed 11 games, Garrison four. Johnson centered the second line with Jonathan Drouin and Alex Killorn. … With Garrison starting, D Luke Witkowski was moved to forward and F Gregg McKegg was scratched. … F Joel Vermin was reassigned to AHL Syracuse. … C Cedric Paquette (lower body) missed his 12th straight.