Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pressure Mounts On Phillips

Interesting words from Chris Phillips today, as he says he doesn't want to leave Ottawa (which he has talked about before) and would like to be part of the "rebuild" that is going on here.

The sentiment going around after that interview seems to be that Phillips has now given notice that he won't waive his no-trade clause, although he hasn't specifically said those words (and in fact, said it was "one day at a time here"). On top of that, there is no one on the record saying that GM Bryan Murray has even asked Phillips to waive it in the first place.

The rest, as is normal for this time of year, is pure speculation.

But let's say Murray were to approach Phillips and ask him to waive the clause so he can be traded. And let's say Phillips makes a decision not to waive it and stay in Ottawa for the rest of the season in hopes of getting a new contract here in the summer.

My guess is that a lot of fans will be all over this guy for no good reason, and in fact someone left a comment in my last post saying how furious they were about Phillips apparent refusal to waive, and suggested the best way to go about changing his mind would be to start a "character assassination" against him.

Real classy stuff there.

If this scenario were to happen, it should be remembered that Phillips bargained for his no-trade clause in his contract and got it fair and square. If he doesn't want to move his family from a city he obviously loves to play in, how can anyone begrudge him that? What the fans want is completely irrelevant. This is his job and he is allowed to exert a certain amount of control over his destination. Knowing Bryan Murray, he will certainly respect the decision of Phillips either way and try to do the best for him and his family.

The very fact that he wants to stay in Ottawa should prove that he's a player the Senators should keep in town, and not pawn off for a draft pick that likely won't pan out anyways.

The fans may be riding the temporary sugar rush of big name trades, but when that high dissipates, they may find a team almost completely barren of tried and true NHL players.

A youth movement is a great thing, and probably a necessary strategy for this team going forward, but you also can't send out six rookies on defense and expect to win any hockey games.

Who better to show Jared Cowen the ropes than Chris Phillips? You think the Senators want Cowen learning his game from Filip Kuba?

No chance.

Phillips, at only 32 years of age, has a lot of good years left in him and if Senators fans are lucky enough, he'll still be here next season when they will need his experience and leadership more than ever.


As a final word on Chris Kelly, I just noticed today that he will remain two games behind Shaun Van Allen on the all-time Senators games played list, and this is somewhat appropriate given that Kelly chose number 22 in homage to Van Allen, who was a big influence on him during the short time they were teammates.

If the torch was passed from Van Allen to Kelly, who is next in line to be that gritty, smart two-way forward? My pick would be Jesse Winchester who could end up having a similar career to both of those guys if he can stay healthy.

Maybe Winchester may keep the tradition alive and change his number to 22 next year as well.

Now that would be a good story, huh?


Peter Raaymakers said...

Phillips got a no-trade clause because the team respected his contributions to the franchise and to the community. The best thing the franchise and the community can do is to respect Phillips' wishes, should he choose to excercise his no-trade clause.

That's my opinion, anyway.

Anonymous said...

The NTC is part of his contract. End of story.

It's no different than if a team goes up to a player who is making $3M a year, and says "You know, you didn't play well this year, why don't you take $2M instead".

Should a player feel the pressure to do as the team says? Hell no. A deal is a deal.

Phillips doesn't owe anyone an explanation, and no player in a similar circumstance does either. As long as the clause was negotiated as part of the contract, it's not right to make the player look like some kind of villain.

But, even still, the pressure being put on Phillips is really wrong when you rewind the tape back to 2007. Look up some of the newspaper articles that were written that spring. Many of them talked about how Phillips could fetch $5M on the open market come July 1, 2007.

Before the playoffs started, Phillips signed for $3.5M with a NTC. It was pretty clear that he left money on the table in exchange for more control over his career in the form of a NTC.

In that case, the NTC was used the way it should be used. It was not handed out as candy. It seems that it was given in exchange for taking a lower salary.

All that aside, the fact is that he has a NTC today, and he has every right to use it without feeling any guilt whatsoever.

Many GM's in the league have a policy that they do not talk about player transactions unless they happen. Doug Wilson comes to mind.

What I'm getting at, is that if Phillips exercises his NTC, how would the fans even find out unless someone leaks the info.

If the Sens do line up a deal, and Phillips says he wants to stay, why would that information even get out. The only purpose of such a leak would be to tar Phillips. That would not be classy. Won't look good to UFA's in the future.

Jeremy, you also mentioned that a lot of fans would be all over Phillips if they found out that he refused to waive the NTC. I don't doubt you. But, I also think that that number is smaller than we might believe.

I think Phillips has a large, but silent, fan base that would like to see him stay.

It was just a year ago that a vocal minority were trying to run Spezza out of town. This summer we saw how much support he actually had. I think Phillips also has a lot of support.

Although, I would never expect for it to be represented in the mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

Major BM disliker here, but we have no reason whatsoever to believe that if he were to make a move, it would be with Phillips' wishes in mind.

If Phillips wants to help the team so badly though, why wouldn't he accept a trade, play out of a hotel room for 2-3 months, then resign in the summer?

BTW, we have coaches to teach players how to play defense, not guys who are worst in the league in +/-.

It's funny how all you guys want a rebuild, but don't want anyone moved out of town. Do you really think trading jarko and kovalev is going to turn this thing around?


johnny_spectacular said...

Truthfully, I am 100% behind Phillips staying. I think he has taken a lot of flak for an abysmal year but can turn it around if we put him in a role we KNOW he flourishes in - part of our dedicated shut-down pairing (Cowen, anyone?)

To me, trade him and resign him if he is willing, but if he isn't, fine. The guy has made it clear before that his preference is to be a Sens lifer and I think that plays into a hesitation to don another jersey even for two months. All I would ask is not to mess around with us and either deal him or sign him on Feb 28th. Right now the fanbase needs clear, definitive moves - no "will he stay or will he go" UFAs after the deadline.

Phillips has been my favourite dman since Chara left and I truly feel that he has earned at least another contract with us where he can redeem himself, even if its just and one-or-two-year. He's a veteran, responsible D with a fierce loyalty to Ottawa, a team that has seen too many trade-requesting prima donnas like Corvo and Dany Dbag. We need guys who will instill a sense of pride in this team into the youth movement and guys like Alfie, Spezz and Phillips, guys who want to hang in and turn it around, bad times ahead be damned, have the attitude I want to see throughout the lineup in the years ahead.

Anonymous said...

The coaches don't be seem to be doing a good job with the defense. How does Carvel keep his job? Seriously. That department needs a house cleaning.

We use to have one of the best defenses in the league.

Unknown said...

"Phillips apparent refusal to waive, and suggested the best way to go about changing his mind would be to start a "character assassination" against him.

Real classy stuff there."

Has Bryan Murray EVER been classy?
Remember when he ran Paul Kariya out of Anaheim, claiming a contract misunderstanding? How about when he threw multiple coaches under the bus? Or when he mentioned Carrie Underwood after trading Mike Fisher (tawdry reference, low blow).

P.S. Remember when Tampa Bay ran Richards out of town? It was ugly. But hey, they're the talk of the town and no one cares about that anymore.

"The very fact that he wants to stay in Ottawa should prove that he's a player the Senators should keep in town, and not pawn off for a draft pick that likely won't pan out anyways."

No, it shows that he's a loser, and that he's comfortable loser at that that doesn't want to take a chance at winning. Just like Murray and just like the other core players.
If Phillips cares so much about the team, he'll let the team trade him and we'll get a pick.

As for not sending six rookies on "D", hasn't LA done that? Why pay 3.5 to Phillips to produce 5 goals, 18 assists and a -30 when you could pay a rookie salary entry level deal for the same result, plus the guy would be 12 years younger?

Same goes for Spezza. Why pay him 7 million when you can draft a center, put him on an entry-level deal and get him to grow? Then you pay him 3.0-4.0 and when he carries your team into the playoffs you think of upping him.

Enough sentimentality here folks. This team can't get it done. Its core players are old and slow and unproductive. Time to send the horses to the glue factory and ice some young geldings that will mature into studs.

I sure as heck Murray isn't sentimental about #4. If he wants to stay, let him take a pay cut and there should not be a NMC in that contract.

Unknown said...

"This summer we saw how much support he actually had."

Would that be the 8 people at the Spezza rally?

I think you'd be surprised how few people actually give a rat's ass about the players on this team in general. A large part of the population just wants whipping boys and targets for their discontent. The Senators are a great target since they're professional athletes.

Funny story:

I've been around Ottawa since the mid-70s and the biggest Sens fan I know is from NEw Brunswick. He came here and adopted the city immediately and is a HUGE Senators fan. We call him "The Only Sens Fan" since he's so loyal. Ottawa is a pretty apathetic, cynical, sniping city. Some guy on the Team 1200 said he'd boo Phillips if he didn't waive. Another email did the same.

If Phillips stays, he should sadly expect some boos and some vilification. It comes with the territory of a city that prides itself on being cheap and turning on its own and eating them whole...where are you now Alanis, Paul Anka, Tom Green & Phil Giroux, etc. etc.

Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

SENS makes some really good points.

I was at a game with my five-year old son, who was cheering relentlessly (we were shutout), and the lady sitting in front of us put her fingers in her ears in the 2nd, politely asked us if we would mind keeping it down in the 3rd, then left when we politely said we wouldn't.

Vanilla fans want a vanilla team. That's why Fisher and Phillips are so loved here.