It’s obvious now that the Senators are selling now and getting ready to rebuild the team. They’ve already traded Mike Fisher to Nashville for draft picks and traded Chris Kelly to Boston for a second round pick. The player that was getting a lot of attention around the league to be a great defensive rental was Chris Phillips.
Phillips is a stereotypical defensive-defenseman. He’s not going to score lots of points (his career high is 26 points in 2006-2007) and he’s genuinely solid along the blue line. Of course, this season has been brutal for him and the rest of the team and his stats have taken a huge hit racking up just four assists and an astoundingly bad -27 plus/minus rating. Despite the bad hockey climate in Ottawa this season, Phillips says he wants to stay and help the team rebuild.
“I do and I know people will call me crazy for saying that,” Phillips said, “but I think you need some veteran guys that have been around to help and guide the young guys coming in. I’m okay and would take on that responsibility.”
Let’s give some credit here to Phillips, if for nothing else he’s loyal. Sure he might sound crazy wanting to stick it out in Ottawa as he’s due to be an unrestricted free agent after the year and surely his statistics aren’t going to win him any extra cash. Phillips was a first round pick of the Senators back in 1996 and it’s clear his ties to the team and community are hitting close to him.
Wanting to be the good soldier to help the team through their darkest days since the early 90s is beyond admirable. We’ll see how much that loyalty counts for if he hits free agency in July, however. Battles between loyalty and money always make things a bit uneasy and if the Senators could improve more by dealing him, would Phillips be OK with that and would a team deal for him knowing if he wanted to sign back with Ottawa? It makes for quite the potential conundrum for everyone.