Phillips gets set for No. 1,000

Senators defenceman Chris Phillips during practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Feb. 8,...

Senators defenceman Chris Phillips during practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Feb. 8, 2012. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:50 PM ET

OTTAWA - Chris Phillips will put the 1,000th click on The Big Rig Thursday night.

When he steps on the ice against Nashville, the Senators defenceman will become the 46th player in NHL history to play 1,000 games with the same franchise. Captain Daniel Alfredsson achieved the feat last season.

The No. 4 has already been painted behind the nets at Scotiabank Place, with a celebration ceremony to honour the milestone Saturday before the Senators face the Oilers on Hockey Day in Canada.

“It’s a big achievement. It’s one that I’m definitely proud of accomplishing,” said Phillips.

Twelve months ago, Phillips, 33, wasn’t sure he was going to be wearing a Senators uniform when he hit No. 1,000. A pending UFA, he had the option to be dealt to a contender — including Montreal — but signed a three-year deal with Ottawa.

“It’s hard to imagine being with any other team in any other place after this long,” said Phillips. “I spoke with (wife) Erin about this game coming up last year and I saw how special it was when Alfie was going through it.”

Appropriately, here are the Top Four moments of his career:

1. 2007 STANLEY CUP FINAL

First, and foremost, Phillips is a team player.

He’ll do anything to win. He is still with the Senators because he wanted to help guide the young players through the rebuilding process and be part of the success down the road.

He’ll never forget the spring of 2007.

Phillips was on the bench when Daniel Alfredsson scored the OT winner in Game 5 of the East final vs. the Sabres to send the Senators to their first Stanley Cup final, which they lost to the Ducks.

Phillips fondly remembers the excitement that engulfed the city during the Cup run.

“That’s what it is all about,” said Phillips. “If you look over my career, it’s more about the team than personal accomplishments. It was exciting to have a chance to win the Cup and go right to the final. Hopefully, one day, I’ll have that chance again.”

2. GAME 6 OT WINNER VS. NEW JERSEY, 2003

Down 3-2 to the Devils in the East final, Phillips scored one of the biggest goals in franchise history on May 21, 2003 to keep the Senators’ playoff hopes alive.

With the score tied 1-1 going into OT in East Rutherford, N.J., Phillips put a loose puck over a sprawling Martin Brodeur for the winner to keep Ottawa alive and force a dramatic Game 7 at Scotiabank Place.

“Before Game 5, we had the big speech from (late assistant coach) Roger (Neilson). To be able to push it another game, have a chance, extend the series, meant a lot,” said Phillips.

Phillips had a bottle opener that replayed Dean Brown and Gord Wilson’s call of the goal every time he popped a lid.

“The battery is dead, but the kids got a kick out of it,” said Phillips.

3. UPSETTING THE DEVILS IN ROUND 1 IN 1998

Down 3-2 to the Devils in the East final, Phillips scored one of the biggest goals in franchise history on May 21, 2003 to keep the Senators’ playoff hopes alive.

With the score tied 1-1 going into OT in East Rutherford, N.J., Phillips put a loose puck over a sprawling Martin Brodeur for the winner to keep Ottawa alive and force a dramatic Game 7 at Scotiabank Place.

“Before Game 5, we had the big speech from (late assistant coach) Roger (Neilson). To be able to push it another game, have a chance, extend the series, meant a lot,” said Phillips.

Phillips had a bottle opener that replayed Dean Brown and Gord Wilson’s call of the goal every time he popped a lid.

“The battery is dead, but the kids got a kick out of it,” said Phillips.

4. GETTING SELECTED NO. 1 OVERALL IN 1996

Phillips was a big part of the building blocks when he was taken with the top selection by the Senators in St. Louis.

GM Pierre Gauthier refused to tell reporters the night before the draft whether he’d select the Prince Albert blueliner No. 1.

Many felt Gauthier didn’t have any choice, but he tried to throw everybody off by suggesting he’d take Russian blueliner Andrei Zyuzin. Phillips was the right choice.

“I was in a good position. I knew that if I wasn’t taken by Ottawa, the Sharks had already told me I was going No. 2,” said Phillips. “I will just never forget the celebration with my family back at the hotel. I think we took up half the bar.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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