|Phillips is willing to take more responsibility in keeping the NHL's top talents, like Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier, in check.|
by Todd Anderson
Last season Senators defenceman Chris Phillips was teamed up with Zdeno Chara - who's now with the Boston Bruins - as the Senators top shutdown duo on the blueline. With Chara gone, Phillips is willing to take more responsibility in keeping the NHL's top talents in check.
"I'll have to find a new partner to help do that. (Chara) played lots of minutes but I'm looking at maybe taking up some of those minutes and playing a bigger role."
Two potential partners are newly acquired defencemen Joe Corvo and Tom Preissing. Phillips admits he knows little about either player -- they both played in the Western Conference last season -- but another newcomer is quite familiar.
"(Goaltender) Martin Gerber had a great season with Carolina," Phillips said of the Stanley Cup champion. "I hope he can help get us to the same place he was last season."
As the third longest-serving Senator behind Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden, Phillips is ready to take more of a leadership role in 2006-07.
"You have to," he says. "As the years go on you get more experience and you sort of naturally take (the leadership role) on. You have to be prepared to do more on and off the ice."
Heavily involved in giving back, Phillips' dedication to charity continues throughout the off-season.
During a trip back home to Western Canada this summer, Phillips participated in his annual charity golf tournament in Fort McMurray, Alta., to benefit Kids Forever, and provide financial assistance for families in need.
Phillips also spent a few days in Las Vegas to attend a concert organized by the Garth Brooks Foundation. He was able to visit with Brooks and fellow country singer Trisha Yearwood. The concert was a â€˜thank you' to the athletes who made donations towards a fundraiser for needy children around the world.
"This fundraiser started about four or five years ago and what we donate is tripled by investors," Phillips said. "We donate money for every goal and assist we record. It's nice to help give back. With my hometown (golf tournament) I never get to see the cheque presentation because it's in November (during the NHL season), but they bring 10 or 11 kids on stage and I guess it's a pretty heartfelt night. That makes it all worthwhile."
While hockey is Phillips' main claim to fame, he's starting to become a talented carpenter as well. Last year he finished the basement of his Ottawa home and he's looking forward to building a bar to compliment the space.
During the summer months, Phillips and his family spend a lot of time at their cottage located at Mont Tremblant.
"I also have been able to play a few rounds of golf, and I enjoy being out on the boat or just being outside with the family," Phillips said. "We like camping and things like that."