Senators notebook: Mr. Phillips goes to Washington

In 16 NHL seasons, Chris Phillips thought he’d seen everything.

Chris Phillips had a novel experience at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. (Wayne Cuddington/Ottawa Citizen)

WASHINGTON – In 16 NHL seasons, Chris Phillips thought he’d seen everything.

That was until he went to a Washington steakhouse with some of his Senators teammates, left his blazer at the hotel, and had to borrow a dinner jacket from the establishment as it was a requirement. The first jacket they handed the 6-3, 220-pound defenceman was a size 38.

“I think I tore that one in the back,” Phillips says. “They followed that up with a 54-long that I had to wear for dinner. I felt like I was wearing a blanket.”

Kyle Turris thought it was so funny he put the picture on Twitter.

Considering Phillips is an ownership partner in the Big Rig restaurant near the Citizen building, he says he might think about a jacket requirement at his place.

“But I’d like it to be odd-bad sizes, so everyone looks as silly as I did,” Phillips says.

Having already blown past the 1,000 game mark, Phillips is quietly approaching another milestone: 1,100 games played. The Washington game was No. 1097 of his career, meaning he will reach 1,100 in Florida Tuesday when the Senators visit the Panthers.

That’s fitting, because Phillips scored his first NHL goal against the Panthers on Oct. 30, 1997, beating goaltender Mark Fitzpatrick with a five-hole shot from the slot.

“I was playing forward with (Shawn) McEachern and (Alexei) Yashin at the time, but Yashin and Sergei Zholtok assisted on it.

“Yeah, I’m old.”

Phillips says he’s “proud” of being in the league for as many games as he has, and as the Senators active leader in games played, he’s even more proud to have played each one of them in a Senators uniform.

Coincidentally, former Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will reach game No. 1,200 just before he arrives in Ottawa with the Detroit Red Wings Sunday.

Phillips overtook Alfredsson’s title as the active games played leader in Ottawa after Alfredsson signed a free agent contract with Detroit.

In his 16th season, the 35-year-old stay-home defenceman Phillips has been remarkably durable, a key to his being able to reach the milestone at a relatively young age.

“A little bit of luck, and trying to do the right things and staying on top of things,” Phillips says. “So far, so good.”

CORVO A GO

Playing just his 9th game of the season, Joe Corvo was asked if he would consider asking for a trade, when the Senators are regularly carrying two extra defencemen.

“I don’t know,” Corvo said. “It’s not something we want to happen, but if there’s eight defencemen, the GM has a job to do, I’m not going to ask him or tell him how to do his job. Whatever he’s going to do he’s going to do.

After being a healthy scratch for the past six games and 11 of the past 12, Joe Corvo didn’t have to be asked twice if he was ready to play against the Capitals.

“It’s nice to mix a game in, here and there,” Corvo said. “It breaks the monotony of the routine of staying late on the (practice) ice and skating.”

While Corvo can’t be happy playing so little for an Ottawa team that brought him back as a free agent last summer, after being with the club from 2006-08, he knew coming in he would be a 6th or 7th defenceman at best.

“Your role develops over the season, regardless of what it is,” Corvo said. “I’m still in the league and I’m getting paid to play hockey.”

Over time, the 36-year-old defenceman has learned patience, to keep from getting utterly deflated over sitting games.

“The longer it drags on, the tougher it is mentally, but I just try to stick with routines that I have, things that I do every day,” Corvo says. “Find other outlets to stay sane and stay active.”

One of those releases is pounding weights in the gym. Corvo does cross fit training and may go on the pro circuit after his hockey career is over.

“A lot of energy and frustration is released exercising and keeping myself healthy,” Corvo says.

 HOFFMAN GETS ‘C’

If there was any doubt about Mark Borowiecki staying up with the NHL club, it was likely erased with the announcement that Mike Hoffman is the captain of the AHL Binghamton Senators.

Borowiecki, a 24-year-old Kanata native, was the Binghamton captain at the time he was called up by Ottawa in early November.

‘MO’ MACLEAN

Head coach Paul MacLean didn’t miss a beat when he was asked which Ottawa Senator is leading the Movember mustache competition: “Me.”

Then MacLean admitted he has had a head start of a few decades growing the mop on his upper lip, while commending the hair-growing efforts of his staff and players.

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