GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Admittedly an optimistic person, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault has a feeling captain Ryan Callahan will remain a Ranger.
Reports are that the Rangers could trade Callahan, who will become an unrestricted free agent in June. Callahan's agent has been involved in negotiating a contract with the Rangers that is believed to be a six- or seven-year deal worth $6 million or more a year. The Rangers apparently have a shorter- term offer on the table.
Vigneault, who is stuck in the middle, would rather have Callahan, who turns 29 on March 21, here rather than anyplace else.
"I'm a very optimistic individual by nature, and like I said yesterday, I am a big fan of Ryan Callahan," he said after practice at the MSG Training Center Saturday afternoon. "I'm confident that things are going to work out."
Vigneault said he went through a similar experience when he coached the Vancouver Canucks. Twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin had not signed their contracts during the season.
"The twins played it out and I think it was on the 30th of June or something, the general manager was over in Sweden making a deal," he said. "Optimistic."
Vigneault said he will not allow the situation to affect his lineup selection, adding that he expects Callahan to be in the lineup when the Rangers host the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.
Callahan has not allowed the negotiations to affect his play or attitude, Vigneault said.
"He's been a real professional throughout all of this," he said. "He's kept that part of his life away from his teammates and away from the dressing room. Obviously, he understands you have questions, and he in a professional manner answers those questions.
"At the end of the day, his job is to come here and get ready, help his teammates get ready and go out and perform. And he has done that remarkably since Day One. So that part hasn't changed."
Callahan, however, said he wasn't going to answer questions about the negotiations, at least not Saturday.
"I'm not going to talk about that stuff now," he said. "I don't think it is productive for the process of the negotiations or anything."
Callahan participated with his teammates in an "Ice Bowl," with the blue-shirted team taking on its white counterparts during the opening 15 minutes of practice.
"I had a good time with that," he said. "Coaches had a little fun. Warm up the legs a little bit."
The football game on ice was the idea of associate coach Scott Arniel.
"We got in this morning. Obviously, we haven't had three days in a while. We wanted to lighten up the first part. We had some work to get done, which we did. I said, 'Anybody got any ideas?' It worked out pretty good. Super Bowl tomorrow and we had our own little Super Bowl."
Notes & quotes: Including the Avalanche game, the Rangers have three games before the Olympic break. They will host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday and face the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Friday. Given that the Rangers have been on a roll of late, going 10-4-1 in January, Vigneault was asked if he wants to stop playing at the end of the week. "It's the same thing for everybody," he said. "Everybody knows that the Olympic break is coming. Guys are going to re-energize and get ready for the final push. That being said . . . we have a big week ahead of us. We have three games in four nights. We are meeting two good young teams and the best team in our conference.''