NY Rangers: Ryan Callahan's Journey to Becoming Team Captain

Nick KrapfContributor IIISeptember 7, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23:  Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers celebrates a second period goal against the New Jersey Devils in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 23, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan is everything you want in a captain.

He’s a hard worker who is not afraid to back down from anyone. He’s a leader, goal scorer, hard hitter and someone who gives 100 percent on the ice.

With all those great qualities, there is still a chance that the Rochester native would tell you that he never expected to be named the Rangers’ 26th captain in the franchise’s history. However, on Sept. 12, 2011, at the age of 26, he was awarded that honor.

The journey all began back in 2004 when he was selected in the fourth round, 127th overall by the Rangers. During that time he complete a four-year stint with the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) Guelph Storm, a team he played for even before he was drafted. In all, he spent 2002-06 with the Storm.

In 2006, Callahan played for the Rangers AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack. Called up in November, he made his debut on Dec. 1 but would be sent back down. This happened two more times as Callahan would register six points (four goals) in 14 games for the Rangers during the 2006-07 season.

In the 2007-08 season, Callahan was on the Rangers main roster and did well, scoring eight goals in the team’s first eight games. However, he was sidelined with an injury, which eventually sent him back down to Hartford for 11 games.

The following year was not only a healthy one for Callahan (81 games) but a career season as well. He posted 22 goals and 18 assists, giving him 40 total points. All that earned him the Rangers’ Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, a new contract and alternate captain status for the 2009-10 season.

Two seasons later, Callahan was once again injured. He suffered a broken hand while blocking a shot, keeping him out for 19 games. Still, in 60 games he was able to post career highs in goals (23), assists (25) and points (48). Once again, it was enough for the Rangers to resign him, this time to a three-year deal worth $12.852 million.

Just a month before the start of the 2011-12 season, Callahan replaced Chris Drury as captain of the New York Rangers. With the newly sewed “C” on his chest, “Captain Cally” would not disappoint.  He posted career highs in goals with 29 (including his 100th career) and points with 54. He also led the Rangers to first place in the Eastern Conference and two games away from Stanley Cup.

At 27, Callahan is at the prime of his career. Since the 2009 season, he has increased his goal and point production. He is loved by the Blueshirts fan base and is starting to get recognition around the NHL as one of the hardest working players in the league.

What’s next?

A 30-plus goal season? An All-Star game?

Only time will tell but for now, no one can deny that Ryan Callahan is the “heartbeat” of the Rangers.

 Follow Nick on Twitter: @NickKrapf