Milestone for Sens' Phillips

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:39 PM ET

Chris Phillips will reach a milestone on Boxing Day.

After spending the two-day Christmas break in Ottawa with his family, Phillips will return to play his 900th NHL game vs. the Penguins at Scotiabank Place and he understands the significance of doing it with one team.

“I haven’t thought about it a lot,” said Phillips before the players headed their separate ways Thursday. “It’s a nice achievement, but it’s not like 1,000 games. That’s obviously a lot bigger.

“The fact that I’m going to be able to do this 900 times with the same team is something that’s nice. Early in my career there were trade rumours. I look back upon those now and I’m thankful nothing ever did happen.

“I’ve always been a guy who has tried to put the team first and I’m pretty proud of the relationship I have with this team and this community. It’s nice that I’ve been able to spend my whole career here.”

With the Senators set to reach the midway point of their schedule on Jan. 7, Phillips, a pending unrestricted free agent next summer, hasn’t had any talks with GM Bryan Murray about a new contract.

There were preliminary discussions at the start of the season. Both sides agreed they wanted to get something done, but wanted time to tick away on the regular season before having a serious chat.

Phillips, 32, wants to play No. 1,000 with Ottawa.

“When you’ve played 900 with one team, of course you want (to play 1,000) with that team,” said Phillips. “It would be tough to think about doing it somewhere else. I don’t think about that much or worry about it.”

Phillips could be a desirable deadline rental for a contender if the Senators wanted to trade him, but they haven’t discussed that possibility with him.

Phillips, who has a no- movement clause, is leaving contract talks to agent Stacey McAlpine.

“I’ve just stayed out of it,” said Phillips, who is making $3.5 million US this season. “It’s not that I don’t want anything to happen. I just don’t know what they’re thinking.”

This hasn’t been an easy season for Phillips. The departure of longtime defence partner Anton Volchenkov to the Devils made for a difficult adjustment in training camp.

The Senators wanted to pair Phillips with newcomer Sergei Gonchar from Day 1. That didn’t happen due to an injury to Filip Kuba. Since then, everybody has gone through various bouts with inconsistency.

Phillips appears to have settled in with Erik Karlsson and, generally speaking, has been more consistent lately.

So, what’s the secret? He’s wearing new blades.

“I don’t ever want to blame equipment, but I’ve felt a lot better since I got new skates,” said Phillips. “I felt like I was sitting too far back in the old ones.

“I just feel like I’ve got a lot more under me when I’m getting up into the play.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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