For the third time this season, New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan is slated to return from an injury. He missed the first game of the season following offseason shoulder surgery, missed nearly a month following a broken thumb in October and recently missed nine games following a sprained MCL.
Callahan’s return is absolutely welcome news for the Rangers. He is the team’s heart and soul, but one cannot ignore the fact that the Rangers captain is very brittle.
Therefore, how do we know Callahan will stay healthy for the rest of the season? How do we know something won’t happen to him during the 2014 Sochi Olympics for Team USA?
As Callahan is a player that gives up his body every single game, the possibility that a freak injury occurs is high. Callahan broke his thumb blocking a shot against the Washington Capitals earlier this season and once broke his ankle blocking a 100 mile-per-hour Zdeno Chara slap shot.
This also creates a major issue for the Rangers going forward. Callahan is an unrestricted free agent following the season, and he is due to receive a lot of money for a lot of years. The question is, do the Rangers want to throw that much at a man that is not guaranteed to play at least 70 games per season?
Callahan’s grit and determination have made him a heavy fan favorite on Broadway. But the reality is his inability to stay on the ice will force a very difficult decision by general manager Glen Sather as to whether to give the captain a contract extension or let him walk.
When Callahan is on the ice for the Rangers the team is better off, but how long will he remain there? If he stays healthy the rest of the season the Rangers’ playoff chances increase exponentially. If he doesn’t then it’s possible the Rangers will have to think about parting ways with their captain.