NEW YORK (WFAN) — In the end, Ryan Callahan said he still saw himself as a Ranger.
The Blueshirts’ former captain spoke to WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Wednesday afternoon and said he never thought about calling another city home until the trade with Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis was actually made.
“Yeah, I wanted to stay there. I thought I was going to. The whole time in my head I never thought about getting traded or leaving at free agency time,” Callahan said. “My goal was to get something done with New York. Unfortunately, it’s the part of the business that’s not fun.”
The hang-up between Callahan’s agents and Rangers general manager Glen Sather seemed to hinge on just a few million dollars. Callahan initially wanted a seven-year deal paying him $7 million annually. And though he later lowered his demands to six years and around $6.5 million, the Rangers wouldn’t go any higher than $6 million per season, or a difference of about $3 million over the life of the contract.
So, just like that an eventful eight-year career with the Rangers came to an end.
“We knew this was a possibility if both sides didn’t agree on something,” Callahan said. “At the end of the day we couldn’t find something that both sides liked. We knew this could happen. We have no bad feelings toward the Rangers organization, or anybody there. It’s an unfortunate part of the business and you have to move on now.”
Francesa then asked Callahan to reflect on his Rangers career.
“I spent almost eight years there,” Callahan said. “Just from playing at the Garden, the fans there are just unbelievable; you know, how they treated me and how they accepted me. I think the biggest thing always if the friends I’ve made, lifelong friends within the organization, teammates that I’ve played with. There’s a lot of good memories in New York and something I’ll miss.”
Callahan has two assists and is a plus-2 in three games — all losses — with Tampa Bay, which currently owns the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The 28-year-old forward, who unlike other free agents has not made making it to free agency a must, said so far he feels comfortable with the Lightning and could re-sign.
“I’m coming in with an open mind. Like I said the team here has been great with me and said, ‘You know what? Get used to us, we’ll get used to you. We can talk at a later date.,'” Callahan said. “I’m just worried right now about trying to play. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air, where the trade talk and the contract talks are all done with now. Just get a chance to play and compete.”
Since the trade, the Rangers are 2-1-1, including a 3-1 loss in Carolina on Tuesday night.
St. Louis, the 38-year-old reigning Art Ross Trophy winner and former Stanley Cup champion, has an assist in his four games for New York, which is currently in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
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