It now appears he could be done playing hockey altogether.
The 34-year-old right wing and former New York Rangers captain has been diagnosed with degenerative back disease -- specifically of a disc in the lumbar spine -- and placed on long-term injured reserve, the Lightning announced Thursday. As part of the diagnosis, general manager Julien BriseBois told reporters, Callahan has been recommended to end his NHL career.
Acquired via trade with the Rangers in 2014, Callahan was sidelined in December because of his back "seizing up," according to the Tampa Bay Times, and he has played more than 70 games just twice in the past eight years, missing 30 in 2018-19 and all but 18 in 2016-17 due to multiple hip surgeries. The year prior, he underwent an emergency appendectomy during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Despite his durability woes, Callahan was an alternate captain in Tampa Bay and regarded as a "consummate pro" with the Lightning. His best season with the team was his first full campaign in town, 2014-15, in which he logged 24 goals and a career-high 54 points as part of an Eastern Conference championship run. Before joining the Lightning, the longtime right winger spent nearly seven years with the Rangers, thrice logging at least 20 goals and earning two All-Star honors. He also represented Team USA at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, capturing a silver medal in Vancouver.