Re-signed Phillips 'excited' about Sens' future

Senators defenceman Chris Phillips practices at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Feb. 24, 2011. (ERROL...

Senators defenceman Chris Phillips practices at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Feb. 24, 2011. (ERROL MCGIHON/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 PM ET

Along with just plain loving Ottawa and the Senators, Chris Phillips had another reason for not wanting to be traded to a Stanley Cup contender.

He doesnt hear the clock ticking.

I think theres still time for me to do that in my career, the 32-year-old veteran defenceman said Monday, 10 minutes after signing a three-year, $9.25-million contact extension he agreed to at 9 p.m. Sunday night.

I used the name Ray Bourque (Monday) morning in an interview ... he was in his 20th season, I think, when he made the move to go win the Cup.

I dont feel like this is my retirement deal. I think Ive got lots of time to play, and hopefully do that here. Maybe my last year Im here, I make that decision then. But Im not at that point.

And Im excited about the future of this team. The way the young guys that have been playing right now, and just knowing the commitment that (owner) Eugene (Melnyk) and management has ... that when we do go in the other direction, well be bringing in guys to make a difference, instead of letting guys go.

Phillips said it didnt bother him to take a $500,000 pay cut, nor that he probably left money on the table by not testing the free-agent market July 1.

That wasnt a large part of the decision-making process, he said of the money. It came to numbers we could agree on and Im happy about that.

Im not going to wonder, What if?

Phillips is much respected in the Senators room, and hell be looked at to set an example for the youth on its way. He hopes his firm stance heading into these contract talks serve as a notice on what it means to be a Senator.

I dont know if I need to say anything. From them sitting back and seeing whats happening, how much I want to be here and my commitment to the team, that theyll take pride in the jersey that they wear here, and what it means to them.

Statistically, Phillips has had a rough season. He no longer has the worst plus-minus in the league, but at minus-25, hes near the bottom.

He also only has five points in 62 games, including his first goal of the season Saturday against the other Philly.

I certainly didnt think they were waiting for me to score a goal to get a contract out of it, he joked. Im very excited that it was just hopefully the first of a few more. They always say the first is the hardest.

Coach Cory Clouston was breathing a little easier knowing Phillips was staying put.

Selfishly, we wanted Chris back, said Clouston. He does a lot of good things. I know he has struggled this year, no one is going to deny that, but I think hes still very valuable to this club.

Phillips is encouraged by conversations with GM Bryan Murray, plus a glance around the room and what the organization has in the system.

I know theres a lot of hockey people out there really questioning my decision, when all they see is hockey. But its a lifestyle, its family, with the community, kids growing up in the community and involved in stuff, he said. But I dont want to just lay it all on that, either.

I love playing in Ottawa. We get treated unbelievable as hockey players, from the community, but from the team as well. And on the ice, I see things turning around.

It was an unbelievable run when we went to the finals a few years ago, and theres no other team Id rather do that with, than these guys.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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