Callahan was advised by doctors to end his NHL career.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan has been diagnosed with a degenerative back disease and could be forced to retire, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced on Thursday.
According to BriseBois, Callahan was advised by doctors to end his NHL career after receiving the degenerative disc disease diagnosis. The 34-year-old will be placed on long-term injured reserve, according to the Lightning.
Callahan skated in 52 games with the Lightning during the 2018–19 season, collecting seven goals and 17 points to go along with 14 penalty minutes. A Rochester, New York native, Callahan has appeared in 757 career NHL games with the Bolts and New York Rangers, recording 186 goals and 386 points. He served as a team captain in New York for nearly three seasons before being traded in 2015.
"I kind of knew. I've been dealing with some back issues for a couple years now, this year being the worst that it's ever been, obviously missing some games with it, leaving some games with it," Callahan said of the injury. "I've kind of been battling it all year. Didn't know to what extent and after the season I went and saw a couple specialists and after talking to them, it wasn't easy to hear what they thought was going on and most likely won't be able to play. It was definitely tough to hear that."
Callahan said he wasn't contemplating retirement before learning of his back injury and is not sure what comes next.
"I definitely don't know what the next chapter is but it's a little bit too early to think about that right now," Callahan said. "I'm just trying to enjoy the family and kind of process everything that's going on."
Callahan was a member of the 2010 and 2014 U.S. Olympic teams.