“It’s where you kind of grew up on the game, and where you had the most fun was outside on the rink,” Callahan said Thursday at Yankee Stadium, where the Rangers will face the Devils on Jan. 26 and the Islanders on Jan. 29. “I had a pond not too far from my house we used to go out and play on, and just being outside in this atmosphere, it definitely brings back memories of that.”
Callahan also has NHL experience playing outdoors. On Jan. 2, 2012, he and the Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park. He said having that experience under his belt should make the games at Yankee Stadium less of a mystery.
“Last time you weren’t sure what to expect,” Callahan said. “Coming into this game you know what to expect, you know the hard parts of the ice and things like that, but I’m just excited to be here at Yankee Stadium and get a chance to play this game.”
Callahan said he is looking forward to the intense atmosphere that New York-area rivalry games produce.
“Any time we play the Devils or the Islanders it’s always a hard game, a hard-fought game," he said. "To do it outside now in front of a big crowd like this, with the excitement of Super Bowl week, it’s going to amp things up even more.”
Callahan suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during the 2012-13 season and had offseason surgery to repair the problem. He began skating again last week and said he may not be ready for the start of the regular season.
“I’m skating now, pretty soon I can start shooting, so come training-camp time I’ll be able to do shooting and skating,” Callahan said. “I think the big thing with the shoulder is contact; you have to just see how that goes as it progresses and as it gets stronger. We don’t have an exact timetable until it gets closer.”
With Alain Vigneault having replaced John Tortorella as coach, the Rangers are in a period of change and will need to rely on their captain to smooth the transition. Callahan said he knows he has to play a major part, on and off the ice.
“I always think the captain is an arm of the coach and has to extend what he’s trying to do or what he’s trying to teach to the players the best you can, and vice versa, communicating what the players are thinking to the coach," he said. "That’s a relationship we have to build with AV, and as I get to know him better I think that’s something that we’ll work on.”
Callahan thrived under Tortorella, one of the NHL's most intense coaches, but said he’s not worried about any style changes under Vigneault.
“I’m going to go out there and I’m going to try to work hard and do whatever it takes to try to win hockey games,” Callahan said. “There will be things within systems that you tweak, or where you are on the ice. But your style of play can’t really change; I mean it’s who you are as a player."
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