October 15, 2012
Senators defenceman Phillips wants fair CBA
By TIM BAINES, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Four days after the Senators should have started their NHL regular season, Chris Phillips is a bit frustrated.
He’s still skating with some of his Senators teammates who haven’t packed up and headed to Europe to play – sessions which have dwindled in size, with the group down to two goalies and nine skaters Monday.
But as much as it stings not to be wearing a Senators uniform, as painful as it is to not be trying to build on the momentum which made Ottawa a surprising contender last season, Phillips says the players need to stand strong and united.
“We’re not trying to win this thing, we just don’t want to get a deal thrown down our throats,” said Phillips. “We want to get a deal that’s fair and we can get back to playing.
“It would be selfish of us just to take a deal to get a paycheque and hurt the guys that are going to be coming up and playing the game in two years.”
This lockout is a bit different than the last one, in 2004-05, for the 34-year-old defenceman.
Last time, he played for Brynas IF in Sweden. Now, with wife Erin, he has three children.
“Last time, it was easier for me to pack up and go. This time not so much,” said Phillips. “I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve had to be able to get on the ice with my son and daughter.
“They started this lockout the 15th of September. We have been prepared for it. The guys are looking for places to skate and play elsewhere, we’ve been preparing for this ... it could take awhile to sort itself out.”
Despite the players being handed a 24% salary rollback to resolve the last lockout, Phillips says this labour dispute isn’t about regaining anything
“We’re not digging our heels in and trying to win this one because we didn’t get what we wanted last time,” he said. “It’s not a revenge thing. It’s not we’re going to get them back because we got beat last time. It’s not that at all.
“We feel they got what they wanted last time and for them to come back and sort of take what they gave us away again just doesn’t make sense. For the large part, it’s their deal. That’s a part of life. Sometimes you make deals you think are good at the time and they don’t work out.
“I think the players did better than anybody expected out of the last deal. But to come back and to try and take away everything or punish us because of that doesn’t make sense and it isn’t what happens in the real world. We’re trying to come up with a deal that’s fair and we think we’ve done a good job of that.
“To say we’re not going to bend at all would probably be untrue. But for them to start at a ridiculous number right off the bat ... there’s not going to be a deal done until they’re ready to get down and get serious.”
Phillips feels disappointment for hockey fans ... because he is a fan himself.
“I’m right there along with them. I feel the same way,” he said. “I miss watching the highlights. It’s a great game. I love seeing what’s going on and following it. I feel like we’re on the same side as them. We want to be playing. We’re fans of the game, too. But we can’t just accept whatever (the NHL is) going to offer for the sake of playing hockey.”
And as far as the NHL’s promises following the 2004-05 lockout ... where NHL commissioner Gary Bettman promised ticket prices would fall?
“It makes you question all the numbers they throw at you, all the losses,” said Phillips. “In some ways, it’s unfair to characterize the owners as one. It’s the voice of Gary Bettman and a few that are ruling. A lot of the teams are being punished as well because of that.”
The fans are absorbing their share of that punishment ... along with a shrinking group of NHL players who show up three times a week at the Sensplex.