Following nearly 900 regular season and playoff games in the NHL, it appears Ryan Callahan’s professional hockey career is coming to an end.
Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois stated on Thursday that the 34-year-old has been diagnosed with degenerative back disease, according to Lightning reporter Caley Chelios.
The organization’s official press release confirmed the news and called it a “degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine.”
Doctors recommend that Callahan no longer play professional hockey and the team has placed him on the long-term injury reserve.
"It's been a couple years in the making, and I think this year it just got to a point where it was almost unbearable at times,” Callahan explained to Bryan Burns of the team’s official website on Thursday. “...Throughout the year, it was always in the back of my head every game I played that this thing could go on me and spasm on me and flare up and I could be out, which happened to me in a couple of games.”
The native of Rochester, New York scored seven goals and collected 17 points in 52 regular season contests last year.
He was a key piece in the 2014 trade that sent Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers. In 757 regular season games between the Lightning and Rangers during his NHL career, he netted 186 goals and 386 points.
“It's not the way you want to go out, but at the end of the day, you've got to look at your family, your life after hockey too,” Callahan said later in his conversation with Burns. “It seems like this has to be done. It's unfortunate for sure.”
He was a part of the Tampa Bay squad that advanced to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
Callahan was entering the final season of a six-year, $34.8 million deal.
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