Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Senators secure blueline stability; lock up Phillips

Just a day removed from the resigning of his defense partner Anton Volchenkov, Senators GM John Muckler confirmed the resigning of veteran blueliner Chris Phillips. Though the move was foreseeable, with both sides speaking positively about the status of talks over the past few months, it was believed the sticking point was a No Trade Clause. TSN confirms a NTC is included in the $14 million, 4 year deal. A former #1 draft pick who has spent his entire 9-year NHL career with the Ottawa Senators, Phillips had made his intention to resign well-known.

Part of the Senators leadership core which includes such respected veterans as Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden, Phillips is renown as a reliable defenseman, who, in addition to his own dependable performances, seems to stabilise his defensive partners. Last season, Phillips was coupled with Zdeno Chara to form perhaps the most deadly shutdown pair in the league. This year, Phillips failed to miss a beat in the absence of his long-time partner, and has played a significant role in the development and maturation of current partner Anton Volchenkov. With the loss of Chara to Boston via free agency, Phillips has not only stepped up admirably on the back-end, but has filled the (rather large) leadership shoes of Chara, taking on the role of assistant captain. The 06-07 season was a landmark one for Phillips, seeing the stay-at-home defenseman record career highs in goals and points. It was also only the second season in which Phillips played in all 82 Senators games.

The four year deal will ensure Phillips remains with the Senators throughout the prime of his career and likely indicates a desire to retire a Senator, a loyalty the Senators organisation has rewarded in kind.