The Ottawa Senators retired Chris Phillips' No. 4 on Tuesday and the ceremony was as much a show of appreciation for the team and fans as it was about the former defenseman.
In an emotional speech, Phillips thanked a host of people who helped him throughout his career. Phillips played for the Senators for all of his 17 seasons in the NHL, and is the team leader in games played with 1,179 games.
"There's kind of a finality, if you will, with my hockey career," Phillips said. "Maybe that's the most emotional part of it. It's done now, for sure. Just to be honored, alongside (Daniel Alfredsson), obviously a long history of playing together and being great friends, but even when I look at - I don't know what the number is - but how many guys in the entire league have their numbers retired. To be in that small company, I'm really at a loss for words. It's a very special feeling."
The ceremony began with team owner Eugene Melnyk handing Phillips his No. 4 jersey in the dressing room. Phillips then shook hands with general manager Pierre Dorian, and met former teammates that were in attendance, including Alfredsson, Radek Bonk, Pascal Leclaire, Todd White, and Shean Donovan.
"I love all those guys, every guy I played with," Phillips said. "That's what you miss about the game. Great to see some guys I haven't seen in a long time. But for (Alfredsson) being there, it was more about us kind of sharing that together. He's got his name up there already, and to be up there with him is an honor for me. He said the same thing and I think we're both very happy and proud of each other for that accomplishment."
Wade Redden, who played for 10 seasons alongside Phillips in Ottawa, gave a speech in which he explained the story behind Phillips' nickname, "Big Rig." Phillips and former goalie Patrick Lalime were play fighting on a team bonding trip and Phillips threw Lalime through a door. Big Rig also went onto be the name of the brewery and pub that Phillips co-founded in Ottawa, which Redden also referenced in his speech.
Buffalo Sabres forward Curtis Lazar came out from the visitors locker room to sit in on the ceremony. Lazar lived with Phillips and his family when he came into the league as a member of the Senators.
"That was awesome," Phillips said. "He had started off in the minors and we weren't sure if he was going to be up. And to see him up playing was pretty cool, to think that he was going to be here. ... To see him there, that's the type of kid that he is; strong character."
Once the ceremony was over, the Senators took the ice wearing jerseys with a special patch in Phillips' honor.
NHL.com Independent Correspondent Callum Fraser contributed to this story.
Video: BUF@OTT: Senators retire Phillips' jersey