Ryan Callahan
Photo AP

Former New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan was diagnosed with a degenerative back disease in a statement made Thursday.

Frank Curto

Tampa Bay Lightning forward and former New York Rangers captain, Ryan Callahan, has been diagnosed with a degenerative back disease.

General manager Julien BriseBois made the announcement on Thursday. The official press release offered by the team described the condition as “degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine.”

Doctors have recommended that he no longer continue to play professional hockey. The Lightning have placed him on the long term injured reserve list.

“It’s been a couple of years in the making, and I think this year it just got to a point where it was almost unbearable at times,” Callahan explained to Bryan Burns of the team’s official website on Thursday.

“Throughout the year, it was always in the back of my head every game I played that this thing could go on me and spasm on me and flare up and I could be out, which happened to me in a couple of games.”

The Rochester, NY native has appeared in 757 career NHL games with the Lightning and New York Rangers, recording 186 goals and 386 points.

Callahan was the New York Rangers fourth round, 127th overall selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He played eight seasons in New York and was named team captain on Sept. 12, 2011, at the age of 26.

In March 2014, after ongoing contract negotiations failed, the Rangers traded Callahan to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis. The two players were the focal point of the deal which included draft picks from both sides.

Callahan signed a six-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $5.8 million to stay with the Lightning. Callahan was entering the final season of his contract.

Doctors will continue to have him in a rehab program and see how things persist. For now, Callahan doesn’t think a fusion surgery procedure will be necessary, but only time will tell.

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A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at Nyrfc12@gmail.com