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Callahan: I wanted to stay in New York

Mar 13, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT

ryancallahangetty Getty Images

To hear Ryan Callahan explain it, he knew the possibility of playing somewhere other than New York was out there — he just never thought it’d come to fruition.

“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 told New York’s WFAN Radio on Wednesday. “My goal was to get something done with New York.

“Unfortunately, it’s the part of the business that’s not fun.”

Callahan was flipped to Tampa Bay at last Wednesday’s deadline in exchange for Martin St. Louis, a blockbuster that marked the first captain-for-captain deal in trade deadline history. Reports claimed a rift between Rangers GM Glen Sather and Callahan’s camp regarding money and term on a new contract led to the deal — Callahan is a UFA at season’s end — but recent remarks suggest he always figured he’d stick around.

Callahan had worn the “C” in New York since inheriting it from Chris Drury at the start of the 2011-12 campaign, and it’s worth noting that serving as Rangers captain is serious business. Callahan was one of just five players to serve over the last 23 years, joining the likes of Drury, Mark Messier, Jaromir Jagr and Brian Leetch.

Because of that, it’s easy to see why Callahan thought he’d be a Ranger for years to come. At 28, he’d already spent his first seven NHL seasons in the Big Apple and endeared himself to fans with his gritty, hard-working style of play.

“Just from playing at the Garden, the fans there are just unbelievable; you know, how they treated me and how they accepted me,” Callahan explained. “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.”

  1. lowenni - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Then you shouldn’t have asked for an absurd contract, Ryan. Both parties wanted him to stay. He was simply too greedy when it came to how much money he would make and bought himself a flight down to Tampa instead of staying.

    • nyrfan - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      I’m right there with you. He thought he could stair down Sather and he found out the hard way that you don’t have all the power in negotiations with Sather. I like MSL and thought we could’ve gotten him without trading Cally away for him. The contract he wanted was ridiculous for a player with 11 goals & 24 points. He could have gotten himself a nice long term contract worth $5-$5.5 mil per season but he had to stick to his guns and price himself right out of NY. He isn’t getting $6 mil a year from Yzerman in Tampa. Ryan Kessler gets $5 mil per and is the same player yet scores 25+ goals every season. NY’s cost of living is higher than other cities but that was too much to ask for. It would have hampered the team for years. If he likes NY so much then fix your demands to a normal number & term and sign here this summer. After July 1st comes. He could even be the captain again. None have been named this year. It’s really too bad he did that. I thought better of Callahan but maybe some animosity remained when Dubinsky got paid big money leaving Callahan for last and a lesser contract. Enjoy Tampa or Vancouver next year. I bet Torts lobbies to sign Callahan if he’s still coach next year.

    • 7mantel - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      The length of the contract was the final nail in the coffin for Callahand ! He came down money wise .I myself did not have a problem with what he thought he was worth,nor with any player when it comes to money !Long term contracts are another thing ! I call it “The George Forman Effect “

      • sens101 - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        Rangers will not buy out richards. They brought in St. Louis to play with him and they look decent together so far!

      • homieshome - Mar 13, 2014 at 4:20 PM

        Sens i hope you’re right, the reason why we DON’T want to buyout Richards is because it wouldnt make sense to unless we know for certain that we can immediately replace him and looking at this years free agency, that wont be an easy task. There are some good FA’s this summer, Radim Vrbata, few others, but it may not be easy to get them first. Richards will stay, mark my words. If we cant replace him, they wont save money on amnestying him and getting worse as a team.

      • bwayblueshirt - Mar 13, 2014 at 5:04 PM

        I actually just wrote an article about why he was traded. The monetary ramifications of keeping him would have been to severe:

      • nyrfan - Mar 14, 2014 at 4:43 PM

        The NTC was the final nail in the coffin. His agent (Bartlet) and Sather had come to within $200K in negotiations. Term was agreed upon whatever that was. 6 years was reported. At the final hour before he was traded Callahan’s camp decided to demand a NTC/NMC written into the deal. That for Sather was the tipping point. I don’t think Sather wanted to trade him and went well above what the Rangers thought Cally was worth to come to terms on a new long term contract. Callahan didn’t have a NTC in his previous deal. Why demand one now. Especially with the delicacy of the situation. Once that happened Sather got in touch with Yzerman and made the deal. It had to be quick because it was fairly early. That NTC must have pushed Sather over the edge. I loved Callahan but he doesn’t score consistently enough for the type of money & term he was looking for. The Rangers will be better off without that contract this summer when they have plenty of Ranger FREE AGENTS to resign and holes to fill through the free agency market.

    • charlieopera - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Absurd contract? What about $12 million for Richards? $7.5 for Nash … you ever see either of them block shots? And their stats are about the same …

      Dumbass move.

      • goalieguy32 - Mar 13, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        so are you saying they should have just added another absurd contract, since they have two already????

      • bwayblueshirt - Mar 13, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        Richards makes $6.67 a year, and will likely be bought out this summer. Rangers have a ton of guys to resign, and giving Callahan the astronomical raise he and his dreamed up while on a particularly vivid acid trip would’ve meant that guys like Zuccarrello, Kreider, Pouliot, Stralman, and Brassard wouldn’t all stay. Much as I love Cally, and I appreciate everything he did here, but the second he asked for more than $27.5M over 5 years his fate was sealed. Somehow he and his agent failed to realize that he’s an injury prone guy who doesn’t put up a lot of points, and he shouldn’t be making that much.

      • homieshome - Mar 13, 2014 at 4:23 PM

        Richards will not get bought out this summer Bway, mark my words. Not unless they know for sure he will be immediately replaced with another Forward whose just as good. Otherwise why get worse as a team? Its not easy to sign top 6 forwards, they will keep him until they find a new top-6 player.
        I only say it wont happen this year based off of this summers free agency batch, there arent a lot of star forwards.

      • nyrfan - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:26 PM

        Richards has had 2 90 point seasons and at that time Sather and the Rangers needed a number 1 Centerman. The knew there was chemistry between him and Torts so they overpaid to out bid all the other teams that wanted him. That is why he gets that much and his cap hit is $6.6 mil per with most of the money in the 1st 4 years. He gets 2 mil his last couple years on that deal. Look at Dustin Brown. He plays the same way but scores goals and is the better player. He only got $5.5 mil per. It’s a long term deal but Callahan and Sather agreed on term and were within a measly $200K on dollar amount. At the last min Callahan’s agent demanded a NTC/NMC. You can’t throw that in there at the 11th hour. I don’t buy the whole injury argument. He’s played 87% of the games since he began with the Rangers. Not bad attendance. The thing is he had 11 goals all year and was asking for 30 goal money. I get what he does but look at Brian Boyle. He’s hit more and blocked more shots for $1.7 mil per year. Dorsett blocks shots for beans. Offense is what makes money in the NHL. MSL has 60 points and he doesn’t even get $5.6 mil per season. No team will pay Callahan that much. He may sign somewhere but he’ll only get $5.5 mil per season. Maybe only $5 even. It’s a business and if Callahan got that much money ( and I think Sather wanted to keep him in NY) it would hurt this summer when others need new deals. I didn’t think it would happen because I thought it’d hurt moral on the team but in the long run that would have been a bad contract. They’re saying the cap might not go as high as once projected at $71 mil. It may only be $68 mil. 3 mil could be 2 4th line players. Or a raise to a kid like Kreider who has to be retained. Kreider is more important to the team than Callahan at $6+ mil per year. Like I said, I was against it but in hind sight it would have hindered the team this summer. If Callahan wanted to stay as bad as he says he did, he would have worked with Sather some more. Maybe asked for less and got some more guaranteed money in bonuses or drop the NTC. It takes two to tango.

    • nj666 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      look at how sather throws out ridiculous contracts. How could he not expect or want that kind of money? Why would he want to take a pay cut considering how other players are paid?

    • c9castine - Mar 13, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      Yeah, I never understand players who say stuff like this and pronounce their love for a city after the fact (I know he always like new york and that, but you know) but on the flip side are asking for a ridiculous contract that in their head they have to know they aren’t worth.

      You should never sell yourself short but history shows inflated contracts hurt not only the team, but many times the player as well in the long run (Luongo a great recent example, and most contracts the Isles have signed in the past 10 years)

    • hockeyflow33 - Mar 13, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      Do you not try and maximize your salary at work?

      • c9castine - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:13 PM

        Different worlds. His market value is 3.5-4 mil. He asked for 7 and got traded to avoid losing him for nothing.

        I’ll never blame a guy for trying but there is such a thing as tact.

    • rrsm53 - Mar 14, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      All of a sudden the Rangers are cheap, give me a break some of the contracts they have given out to lesser players are you for real. Whatever your smoking give it up.

  2. mgp1219 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    I guess the money was more important than all those good feelings, eh Ryan?

  3. killerpgh - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Should have to the agent you pay not to demand the salary/years of a more skilled player than and you could have still been there.

  4. AppealToReason - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Lesson to all players: clench your buttholes the next time your agent tries to blow smoke up it if you don’t want to leave where you are

  5. mackattack29 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    It’s always so ridiculous to me when a player comes out with a statement like this… I mean seriously.. we are talking about millions of dollars. I can’t imagine what it would take for me to turn down the contracts that the Rangers were offering because I wanted just a few more 100 thousand dollars. I mean come on… If he knows how to invest his money he could easily live “the great life” given what he’s already made if he got a contract at half what the Rangers were offering. Just amazing how detached it appears professional athletes are from reality.

    • nyrfan - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      Well it’s a little more complicated than that. The players play the game and get paid well for it but the owners make Billions sitting in a chair running a real estate business. I can understand the players wanting every dollar they can get. However, a player like Callahan had no business asking for 6 years $33-$36 mil. Kessler gets $5 mil per season and plays like Cally but scores 25 goals every season. NY is the biggest market and cost of living is highest here but $5-$5.5 mil on a 5 or 6 year deal should have gotten Callahan signed. Sather I heard even extended his offer to within $200K of what Cally wanted and he (or his dumb ass agent) decides to demand a NTC/modified NMC. After all that Sather must have called Yzerman and said we have a deal. I can’t blame him either. MSL is a better player and costs a mil per less than what we’d pay Callahan for 30 points. I think it sends a message to the players that Sather doesn’t always give in to player demands. I didn’t think it’d happen because he was the Captain and that can’t be good for team moral but it’s a business and that contract to Callahan was too much for too little offensive production. If he wants then check your ego at the door Cally and call Sather July 1st. Otherwise good riddance. The time here was good but time to move on. Go to the West and get hurt all the time blocking shots for Torts. The NHL is now saying the Cap might not reach $70 mil. It may be $68. That 3 mil is a player not resigned.

    • hockeyflow33 - Mar 13, 2014 at 6:30 PM

      Such a dumb, jealous argument. $100k is $100k regardless of who you are. This is his job not a beer league.

  6. nsmiff87 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Marty and Ryan were just being stuck up this year

  7. llojac1 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Can’t wait until he comes home & signs in Buffalo on July 1st.

    • barkar942 - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      Buffalo will have open checkboo… I mean open arms out to welcome him home.

      • rrsm53 - Mar 14, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        Buffalo needs a transplant for their whole organization, he is maybe one piece of it.

  8. runhigh24 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    Yes his contract demands were ridiculous but after all the crazy contracts the Rangers have given out for years, I really can’t blame him for sticking to his guns and believing the Rangers would eventually come to his price. The St. Louis situation was an unexpected and unfortunate curveball for Callahan.

    • killerpgh - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      Maybe that is what Cally is planning. Sather seems to nickel and dime his own players when trying to resign them. But he has no problem overpaying for Free Agents. Now Cally can sign with them as a free agent and get his Redden, Richards, Drury, Gomez type deal from Sather.

  9. giantboy99 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Greed b…..d

  10. tampabayirish - Mar 13, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    You only have to watch Callahan play a couple of shifts for your team and you fall in love with him as a player. My guess Is he does not re-sign with Tampa. I think he either has a secret deal to return to the Rangers or he shuffles off to Buffalo and banks millions. The Sabres are going to have to spend a ton just to get to the floor of the salary cap. The Sabres will be so young that they could afford to grossly overpay for Callahan. Hope he stays in Tampa. Cally, spend one Winter in Florida and you will never go back to NY…especially since global warming appears to have reversed itself.

  11. schneider99 - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if no teams give him the money he is seeking and he returns to New York for a reduced price?

    • 950003cups - Mar 13, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      Never happen. Devils are a good fit for him as well. Don’t think Lamoriello doesn’t notice either.

  12. villi5ed - Mar 13, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    I am generally not a conspiracy theorist, but I would not be surprised if a little bird from Buffalo whispered in Cally’s ear that the years and the dough he was seeking from the NYR will be there in July. Nothing else makes sense.

  13. pastabelly - Mar 13, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    I must be missing something. Callahan is the bad guy because he wouldn’t sign a team friendly extension. Got it. Callahan did nothing wrong and neither did the team. Both were just doing business. Callahan’s only mistake here is that he thought it was okay for him to treat his contract and association with the team as a business transaction while also believing the team should have loyalty to him.

    • markf88 - Mar 13, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      definitely missing something…. this was not a team friendly extension, to pay someone 6 mil a year for 30-40 point season is beyond fair and definitely player friendly. Him rejecting that offer will be a blessing to the rangers for years

  14. mess1109 - Mar 13, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    Don’t you guys get it??! It had nothing to do with the money or the length of contract. Old man Sather already had St. Louis on his radar and he was shipping Callahan for him no matter what. He’ll tell you he wanted to keep Cally but the money was too much but he’s lying, he was set on getting St.Louis and he even threw in a number 1 and 2 to get the deal done. Funny thing is , Sather had all the leverage since St. Louis said he only wanted to play for the rangers, but that’s what Sather does, acquire the aging superstar and give up the future.. This is why we have one cup since 1940 and probably won’t have another till 2040.

  15. nyjetblue - Mar 13, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Bwayblueshirt knows his stuff. Cally will settle in nicely in Buffalo so his wife can live close to their families (sound familiar?) and he can get PAID big time…let’s not even get started on cost of living differences. I don’t care if Richards scores the game winning goal in the Stanley Cup finals, buying him out is the only logical move and will be done. And yes, I’m marking your words.

  16. zinger99 - Mar 13, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    Should’ve told his agent,”Just make sure at the end of the day I’m a Ranger.” He should be booed mercilessly at MSG.

  17. jcuervo962002 - Mar 14, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Sorry cally- dont buy this for a second, if you wanted to stay here you’d be here. You wanted to stay on your terms, which were absurd. score 30-40 goals/70 points on a consistent basis and then ask for those types of $$$. You were my favorite Ranger, but Sather got this one right.

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