Best and worst of times for Phillips

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 3:13 PM ET

There is nothing at Disneyland that compares to the roller-coaster of emotions Chris Phillips has been on the past six days.

It is called the Ride of Life, and he has certainly experienced its extremes.

The wheels started turning Saturday, with Phillips' elation after the overtime win against the Sabres. The claiming of the Eastern Conference title was particularly rewarding for Ottawa's top defenceman, as he's been around to feel the pain of the team's eight previously failed attempts.

As reporters approached Phillips' dressing room stall at HSBC Arena following Daniel Alfredsson's historic goal, they were greeted by a grin that expressed excitement and happiness as much as it did relief.Phillips' eyes were watery for the first time that day.

Next came word of Elgin-Alexander Fraser's passing, which he received upon his arrival home from Buffalo. Chris and his wife Erin had grown close to the three-year-old Carleton Place boy and his family in a short period of time. Hearing that Elgin-Alexander had lost his battle with the childhood cancer neuroblastoma a couple of hours after his favourite team advanced to the Stanley Cup finals, broke the hearts of those who had never met him. To have spent special time in his company, at his home, as Phillips and Mike Fisher had, the news was particularly saddening.

And then, a couple of days later, Phillips' spirits would take a dramatic turn upward again.Asked about his thoughts of the previous night's Western Conference championship-clinching victory by the Anaheim Ducks, he couldn't contain himself.

"I didn't watch the game," Phillips beamed proudly. "I was busy watching my little girl being born."

Niomi Ireland Phillips, new sister for Ben and Zowie, entered the world weighing 6 lbs., 9 oz. at 2:11 a.m yesterday. Her first appearance was scheduled for a few days down the road, but after consultation with their midwife it was decided better now than risk she show up when Phillips and the Senators were on the road, in Anaheim.

"It's going to be easier to focus now that we've had her," said Phillips. "I don't have to worry about 'what if' from the other side of the continent."

TIRED AND GRATEFUL

Both mom and daughter are doing fine. Dad, who was on the Bell Sensplex ice practising with his teammates at 10:30, was a little tired and a lot grateful.

Just as Fisher had visited the Frasers to watch a movie and play with Elgin-Alexander, Phillips also snuck off to Carleton Place to drop in on the little boy and family he was introduced to by mutual friends.

There, he played some street hockey with Elgin-Alexander.

"From the first time you talked to him, you realized he was a big hockey fan," said Phillips, who introduced the Frasers to the Senators' family during a late-season practice. "Once you met him that first time, you realized, 'Wow, the Senators really are everything to this little guy. Hockey really is everything to him, from the moment he wakes up until he goes to sleep.' He brought us a lot closer, just by the huge smile on his face. He had so much energy, he made us feel good."

Phillips and Erin saw Elgin-Alexander for the last time Wednesday night, after Game 4 of the series with Buffalo.

"He had started to go downhill ... the doctor told us one of his lungs had collapsed ... that it wasn't a good sign," said Phillips. "Without saying goodbye to him, we were hugging him like we may not see him again. But we still thought it wasn't going to be the last time.

"For him to basically stay up to watch us play (Game 5) and then go peacefully ... that just shows you what the Senators meant to him."

The Senators will be trying to win the coveted mug for him, just as they will try to win it for his parents, Hamish and Victoria, and themselves, their coaches, their owner, their families, their friends ... and the people of a community with whom they have developed a new, very strong and deep bond.

It's going to be very tough. The Anaheim Ducks are considerably stronger and better than Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Buffalo.

They represent the unknown. The Senators haven't been duck hunting since 2003.

"Not playing them this year will help us focus on ourselves, and the things we've been doing well," said Phillips. "They are a little bit bigger and a lot more physical than the teams we have seen so far in the playoffs. But I know how guys on this team can handle that situation.

"It's just exciting to be in the finals."

With the possibility of christening Niomi Ireland in the Stanley Cup, he was asked?

"That would be great, wouldn't it?" Phillips said, smiling again.


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