Continued from page 1

St. Louis issued an open thank you letter to Lightning fans, in which he declined to explain his reasons for wanting a trade.

“Today is a bittersweet day for me,” he wrote. “I am sad that this chapter of my career is over. I have had 14 wonderful years in Tampa and have cherished being a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“In the end this is a decision for my family. I respect the fact that many of you do not agree with my decision and are angry with it. All I really can say is that I am sorry and I am very appreciative of the support you have shown me through the years.”

Rangers general manager Glen Sather said the club and Callahan had narrowed the gap on the money, but a no-trade clause became a sticking point.

“The no-trade was the one thing that really bothered me in the end,” Sather said. “You give too much away when you give that no-trade contract up, it really ties your hands. I know it’s nice for the player to have security, but no-trade, no-yell-at is a tough deal.”

This trade reunites St. Louis with forward Brad Richards, who was his high-scoring teammate with Tampa Bay before the Lightning traded him to Dallas in February 2008. Richards signed a free-agent deal with the Rangers in July 2011.

Vigneault said they will likely be linemates again with the Rangers.

St. Louis was the Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP in the 2003-04 season, and he has captured the Lady Byng Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player three times.

In 62 games this season, St. Louis has 29 goals and 32 assists with a plus-12 rating. He is fifth in the league in goals and eighth in points. Last season he became the oldest player to win the scoring title and joined Mario Lemieux and Gordie Howe as the only players to post at least 1.25 points per game at 37 or older.

St. Louis, a six-time All-Star, has 369 goals and 604 assists in 1,041 career games over 15 seasons with Tampa Bay and Calgary.

Callahan, who will turn 29 later this month, has 11 goals and 14 assists in 45 games this season. He has 132 goals and 254 points in 450 career NHL games over eight seasons.

He became Rangers captain before the 2011-12 season — the fifth youngest in team history at age 26.

Callahan took part in the Rangers‘ morning skate Wednesday, but didn’t speak to reporters afterward. He is expected to make his Lightning debut on Thursday at home against Buffalo.

Just before the deadline, the Rangers also acquired 28-year-old defenseman Raphael Diaz from Vancouver for a fifth-round pick in 2015.

Diaz has one goal and 12 assists in 52 games this season with the Canucks and Montreal Canadiens. He had one goal and one assist in six games after being acquired by Vancouver on Feb. 3. In 134 career games over three NHL seasons, Diaz has five goals and 38 assists.