Along his way to his current National Hockey League career, Ryan Callahan’s path took him through Junior-A franchise then known as the Buffalo Lightning,
Ten years ago, five seasons before the Lightning was renamed the Junior Sabres, Callahan was a 16-year-old youngster out of Rochester who made the Lightning squad. His coach that season was Kris Hicks.
“He’s a great kid. I only got to coach him one year but I could see then that he was a special kid and a special talent,” said Hicks. “He has a great work ethic and grit and passion for the game. He really loved coming to practice, loved working his butt off…”
Callahan was working and playing hard through what turned out to be a disastrous year for the franchise, Overmatched most nights, the 2001-2002 Lightning won only five games that season. Yet Callahan toughed it out and continued to show a work ethic that scouts couldn’t help but notice.
“We didn’t have a lot of success that season but he always had the killer instinct, the desire to go out there, game in and game out, even when we were taking our lumps,” said Hicks. “He also had great leadership qualities too. He was an example for the rest of the guys. He was well respected by his teammates. And he was younger, they’d seen what he brought to the table, that he was a total package type kid, plus he had a great personality and was a funny guy to be around. He was liked by everybody.”
After completing one season with the Lightning, Callahan moved on the following year to the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm. Drafted by the Rangers in the 4th round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Callahan debuted with the Rangers in 2006, gaining a reputation for his work ethic and grit. His resume also includes a spot on the silver medalist United States Olympic hockey team that competed in the 2010 Vancouver Games.