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Ryan Callahan back in regular jersey for practice

Assistant captain underwent hip surgery in June to repair a torn labral

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Ryan Callahan's tolerance for pain has been well-documented.

Two years ago during the playoffs, Callahan was forced out of Game 6 of a Second Round series versus the Montreal Canadiens after undergoing an emergency appendectomy the night prior. Five days following the surgery, Callahan was back on the ice to face his former team in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers.

Last season, Callahan labored through a lower-body injury through the second half of the season yet still played 73 regular season games and 16 of the Bolts' 17 playoff games. Despite feeling pain on a nightly basis, Callahan still led the Lightning for hits (164) and blocked more shots (71) than any other forward on the Bolts' roster during the regular season, routinely putting his body in harm's way and absorbing pain for the good of the team.

Video: Callahan on injury rehabDuring this offseason, Callahan underwent surgery to repair a labral tear in his right hip.

At the time of surgery, the right wing was given a five-month timetable to return.

But this is Ryan Callahan.

Timetables are meant to be broken.

On Friday, a day after the Lightning's season-opening, come-from-behind 6-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, Callahan skated in a regular jersey for the first time since the offseason surgery. Five months from the date of surgery would have put Callahan back in the lineup in mid-November. But Callahan is shooting to get back around November 1, and this latest development in his rehab would suggest that early return is not unrealistic.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, however, said not to read too much into the color of Callahan's practice jersey.

"Nothing's changed since last time," Cooper said. "His jersey color may change, but his when he's returning date doesn't change. That one's way more important to me. He's chomping to get back. His body's holding him back for a little longer."

Callahan certainly didn't appear held back during Friday's practice, jumping into his usual role on the Lightning's penalty kill and participating in all drills without any apparent limitations. He said it felt good to take contact but would have to wait a couple days to see how much of a toll that contact would take.

"It felt fine out there now," he said. "It's strong enough. They wouldn't have put me in that situation if they didn't feel comfortable in me being out there doing it. So, it felt good, and we'll just wait to see how it responds."

Callahan said he's been encouraged with how the surgically-repaired hip has responded during his push to get back on the ice.

"It's responded well," he said. "I've had really good rehab. I've tried to get back as soon as I can. The trainers here have been great. We'll see how this next step is."

Once Callahan does return, his physicality and tenacity and competitiveness will be a big boost to the Lightning lineup.

 

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