Tampa Bay Lightning F Ryan Callahan Could Return Any Day Now

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Tampa Bay Lightning alternate captain Ryan Callahan is making progress in his recovery and could be making his return to the Lightning lineup soon.

If there is one thing you can say about the Tampa Bay Lightning that is consistent from season to season, it’s that no matter how hard they try, the injury bug always comes calling at the most inconvenient times of the season. In fact, for the last couple of seasons, it has come knocking before the season even starts.

On June 21st, just as the off-season was getting into full swing, Tampa Bay Lightning alternate captain Ryan Callahan received news he has a labral tear in his right hip that would require surgery to repair. The aforementioned surgery would require him to miss at least five months away from the ice.

In other words, the Lightning would be forced to start the season without the assistance of one of the most influential members of the team. This was both good and bad for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

Obviously, the bad side is Ryan Callahan was out of the lineup for at least the first month of play. You never want to enter a season without one of your strongest players. At the same time, starting the season with Ryan Callahan on the injured reserve list gave Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman the little bit of cap relief he needed in order to get the team ready for the new season.

Now, here we are towards the end of the first month of the season and the Lightning are currently 5-2-0 heading into a back-to-back weekend to finish off October. The Lightning could certainly be in a worse position right now, but it would also be nice to have back our alternate captain.

In addition to missing Callahan from the lineup, Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has been listed as Day-to-Day with an Upper Body Injury after a nasty collision with the board on Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens. Taking Kucherov’ spot tonight against the Devils is the newly re-acquired Cory Conacher.

So…back to Callahan. As most Lightning fans know, Cally has been doing pretty well in his recovery. Back on October 14th, Callahan was seen at practice in a full contact jersey. This is usually a good sign that an injured player is working towards making his return.

Well, earlier today, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times had an opportunity to speak with Ryan Callahan about his condition and his eventual return to the ice. Let’s just say Cally’s words were more than a little inspiring.

While Callahan would not confirm an official return date, he did tell Smith “I’m pretty much back to normal now.” Normal sounds rather drab, but when you’re talking about someone like Ryan Callahan, normal isn’t exactly normal.

When Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper was asked about when Callahan would return to the ice, Cooper smiled and said the ideal situation would be a return at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers, but clarified that they just weren’t there yet.

There is the possibility they could be waiting until the Tampa Bay Lightning return home on November 3rd to take on the Boston Bruins to bring Callahan back into the mix, but that is purely speculation at this point.

In any case, it is definitely encouraging to see Ryan Callahan so close to returning to the lineup. Injuries come and injuries go, but when it comes to a player like Ryan Callahan, you definitely want to get him out on the ice as soon as possible.

Next: Jon Cooper Rules Out Nikita Kucherov Against Devils

The Tampa Bay Lightning will charge into the Prudential Center in New Jersey to take on the New Jersey Devils tonight at 7:00 p.m. There is no doubt Coach Cooper will have to do some shifting of the lines heading into tonight’s game. It will be interesting to see how things shake out after the most recent injuries.