Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips announces his retirement from NHL
'I loved and will miss the competition,' Phillips tells reporters during heartfelt retirement announcement
It's official: the longest-serving Ottawa Senator has announced his retirement from play in the NHL.
Veteran defenceman Chris Phillips, who was drafted first overall by the Senators in 1996, has been dealing with back problems and wasn't able to play a single game in the 2015-16 season.
"I loved and will miss the competition," Phillips told reporters Thursday afternoon, then rattled off the names of some of the hockey legends he's faced off against over the years. "Although they made for some long nights, I got a lot of enjoyment out of trying to shut them down."
Nineteen years of professional hockey have taken their toll on his body, Phillips said.
He made the decision to retire with advice from his family and Senators medical staff, and while it disappointed him to learn his back wasn't strong enough to continue, he said it's for the best.
The 38-year-old underwent surgery to repair a bulging disc in his back in April 2015, then suffered a cracked vertebrae during rehab.
Congrats <a href="https://twitter.com/CPhillipsFour">@CPhillipsFour</a> on an amazing career with <a href="https://twitter.com/Senators">@senators</a> and in the community! Glad you're staying with the team's front office!—@JimWatsonOttawa
Mike Fisher says Phillips was one of his favourite team mates, a generous part of the team <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ottnews?src=hash">#ottnews</a> <a href="https://t.co/PCVcnM8aPy">pic.twitter.com/PCVcnM8aPy</a>—@matthewkupfer
Phillips to focus on business development, alumni relations
Former general manager Brian Murray, now a senior hockey adviser for the Sens, said Phillips was very much missed on the ice last season.
Murray said he'd never seen anyone as excited as Phillips was to score goals, "though he could've scored a few more," and recalled thinking Phillips was remarkable when he met him for the first time in St. Louis.
Phillips may be hanging up his No. 4 jersey, but it doesn't mean he has to leave the team. He'll now focus on community development, business development and alumni relations in an office-based role for the Sens, general manager Pierre Dorion said.
Phillips has played 1,293 NHL games, compiling 303 points.
He signed a two-year deal with the team in 2014, worth a reported $2.5 million US per year.
The Phillips family on the big day <a href="https://t.co/1BCTogZfIG">pic.twitter.com/1BCTogZfIG</a>—@matthewkupfer