|After tense negotiations, the Senators and defenceman Chris Phillips have agreed to a three-year contract extension. (DARREN BROWN/QMI Agency file photo)
Chris Phillips has decided there’s no place like home.
The Senators defenceman accepted a paycut from the $3.5 million he is making this season and agreed to a three-year deal worth a bit more than $9 million Sunday night.
After hitting a stalemate in negotiations, the two sides worked feverishly during the day Sunday and after sitting down for a heart-to-heart chat with his wife Erin, Phillips accepted the extension.
If Senators GM Bryan Murray had been unable to agree to a deal with the defenceman, Phillips may have been dealt before Monday’s 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline.
Phillips, 32, who has played 925 games in an Ottawa uniform and stated publicly several times he wanted to be part of the club’s rebuilding process, is determined to play his 1,000th game with the Senators.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now. We’ll have to see how it plays out and see what happens,” said Phillips late Saturday night.
If Phillips had decided to go to market, there would have been plenty of interest.
The Blackhawks, Canucks, Penguins, Coyotes and Flames, in particular, are all looking for a solid defenceman.
The Senators wanted a second- round pick in return for Phillips, who has always been able to elevate his game in the playoffs.
Maybe thinking of a worse-case scenario, Phillips had kind words for Senators fans on the Team 1200 post-game show Saturday night.
“The fans have been unbelievable for me my entire career here,” said Phillips. “I’ve loved every minute here, there’ve been some great memories, great teams and all the teammates. If it happens to be the last one, then it ended on a good note, but we’ll see what happens.”
Five Senators — C Mike Fisher, RW Alex Kovalev C Chris Kelly, LW Jarkko Ruutu and G Brian Elliott — have been dealt in the last month.
Murray has been charged with preparing this team for a rebuild in the off-season. The club has four draft picks in the first two rounds of this year’s draft and wouldn’t mind getting more.
The Senators have also talked to several teams about veteran defencemen Chris Campoli and Filip Kuba, but interest is limited. It seems more likely that Campoli would go.
There’s a belief with the way D Brian Lee is playing, the club may actually be able to deal him at this deadline because he’s affordable.
The Canucks, Penguins, Habs and Rangers showed interest in tough guy Chris Neil. He has a cap hit of $2 million per-year the next two seasons, but it’s doubtful he’s going to be dealt anywhere.
Neil submitted a list of 10 teams because he has a limited no-movement clause.