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.

ďI havenít thought about it a lot,Ē said Phillips before the players headed their separate ways Thursday. ďItís a nice achievement, but itís not like 1,000 games. Thatís obviously a lot bigger.

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

ďIíve always been a guy who has tried to put the team first and Iím pretty proud of the relationship I have with this team and this community. Itís nice that Iíve been able to spend my whole career here.Ē

With the Senators set to reach the midway point of their schedule on Jan. 7, Phillips, a pending unrestricted free agent next summer, hasnít 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.

ďWhen youíve played 900 with one team, of course you want (to play 1,000) with that team,Ē said Phillips. ďIt would be tough to think about doing it somewhere else. I donít think about that much or worry about it.Ē

Phillips could be a desirable deadline rental for a contender if the Senators wanted to trade him, but they havenít discussed that possibility with him.

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

ďIíve just stayed out of it,Ē said Phillips, who is making $3.5 million US this season. ďItís not that I donít want anything to happen. I just donít know what theyíre thinking.Ē

This hasnít 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 didnít 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, whatís the secret? Heís wearing new blades.

ďI donít ever want to blame equipment, but Iíve felt a lot better since I got new skates,Ē said Phillips. ďI felt like I was sitting too far back in the old ones.

ďI just feel like Iíve got a lot more under me when Iím getting up into the play.Ē

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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