Christopher, Christopher and Associates.

Christopher, Christopher and Associates.

GREAT! You woke up Old Man Phillips.

Hey Lover,

As a creep [See: above line], I’ve been going about my business creeping on message boards and twitter and in my travels I keep coming across something I’d like to discuss with you up in that tree fort over there.

Recent injuries to veteran Christophers Neil and Phillips have seen their newly minted Associate Assistant Captain duties assigned to other deserving players in the line up. We’ve seen the “A” affixed to the uniforms of Marc Methot, Kyle Turris and delightful wood sprite Erik Karlsson over the course of the season. You know what? The letter has looked good on each of them.

Since these fine young lads have taken so well to the letter, I have encountered a number of fans speculating who will take over the role of assistant captain next year. Particularly with regard to Phillips whom many think is on his way out. Your father and I have become very concerned that you’re going to be hurt by this.

I’m afraid you’re setting yourself up to be among the many people who will be disappointed when Chris Phillips is re-signed for maybe two more years after this season. Make no mistake here, I’m definitely not saying that I want that, I wish the team would get real-real with him and say, “Thanks for your years of dedication but the organization has decided to move on.”
I am personally of the opinion that Eric Gryba, who is the lowest paid player on the team by the way…YES he makes less than Matt Kassian, could handily take over Big Rig’s role on the team. It’s not going to happen though. Gryba wouldn’t be included in proposed trades if he was a lock for a future spot on the team.
Let’s look at the cold hard facts: Phillips has 1100+ games / 100+ playoff appearances in an Ottawa uniform, wears an A and owns a goddamn RESTOBAR in town. That’s not even touching the PR mess that was the organization letting their beloved captain walk a little over 6 months ago.
Murray is desperate to buy und Phillips is desperate to sell. They’re the original odd couple! Phillips is so entrenched here, I think he’d even take like $900K to stick around if he has to. HE EVEN HAS A SUPPLEMENTAL INCOME! I’ll be interested to see how that plays out as both sides appear to have leverage.

The other misconception with #4 is that because he LOOKS old that there’s an assumption that he is retiring soon. A lot of people seem to be under the impression that it will be at the end of this season. I’m going to knock your socks off here, dude is but 35 years of age. Perspective: Rap-rocker Joe Corvo is 36! My feeling is that despite Philly’s advancing age and declining play, he is not yet old enough or bad enough that the he wont be kept on in his current mentor role and for a minute.

“But what of the trade deadline,” ye might ask, “on an expiring deal wouldn’t he be the perfect veteran pick up for a contender?”
No! That ship has totally sailed. If Ottawa were going to get a return on Phillips it would have had to have been during Yon Great Fire Sale of 2011. Instead they inked him to an EVEN AT THAT TIME overly long, overly generous 3 year/$3.5MM per year deal.
As for suitors, I can’t really think of a team that would consider themselves a contender who would be looking for a bottom pairing D man who’s been so-so this season for their playoff run. Sure he’s been to a Final but that was 7 years ago now…also on a team that didn’t win. Remember how Murray could barely give away Alex Kovalev? That guy had over 1000 points, numerous all star appearances, 2 Olympic medals and a cup ring! I simply cannot see the team giving away one of their associate assistant captains for a conditional seventh round pick.
Anyway, as Gryba shows, those bottom pairing type players are guys teams tend to already have kicking around. A buying team would have to be one with serious injury concerns looking to pick Phillips up as depth. Plus I generally think they straight up wont shop him Oh, PLUS+PLUS Phillips has a limited no trade clause. Murray gave him a pretty nutso deal last time around (3rd highest paid D man!) I can totally see him getting TWO more years. It would be a one year deal that would be the surprise for me.

As for Neil, the conversation is a much shorter one: Bro is a fourth liner who makes nearly $2MM until 2016. The Sharks apparently wanted him in 2011, instead Ottawa locked him up until he turns 37. Don’t see Neiler as movable now or at least until the 2016 trade deadline and who knows what his game will look like then.

Anyway, maybe you’re fine with all this. I’ve made peace with it and if you haven’t, well, I’m not trying to bum you out or whatever just trying to brace you for what I think is to come. If it were up to me, this is an area where I wish the organization would pass the torch a little bit. They made a good step with the Spezza captaincy and, yes, my picks would be Karlsson and Turris for the A’s. Maybe one day we will see them in that role but I think we’re going to have to wait a while to see it.


8 thoughts on “Christopher, Christopher and Associates.

  1. It is unfortunate, but true. I would love to see the org. pass the torch to the new young guys (as the trend had been going) but alas it is not to be.

    Philips was needed when they dropped Gonch last year, but I think the young guys (with some more seasoning) will all be ready next year to fully take the reigns. Everyone seems down on Gryba, but I love that kid! He’s fuckin’ huge for 1, for 2 he’s so huge that very few people fuck with him and when they do they get Lar’s Eller’d (make that a thing). His defensive play is pretty solid, and I saw a few cross ice passes last night that seemed to be destined for the net. I really hope we don’t trade him. All of this said, Weircoch still has tons of potential (if/when/ever he gets to play; same for Gryb’s) and we have some guys in the cupboards that are looking pretty solid as well; Philly was the steady presence when needed and well, it’s no longer needed.

    I am a Neil fan, but this year he really has seemed to be more of a liability as opposed to the thorn in the other teams side. Last night he traded with Jack Johnson which i think is the best penalty he’s taken all year!

    • Hi Travis,

      Truth be told, it probably seems like I’m dumping on Phillips more than I even mean to. There are worse players out there [Corvo!] to anchor the team. What’s crazy is how this is essentially blowback from letting Alfie go. They had to come up with a new captain and associate….also the Sens looked bad [even if I do think Alfie also had a hand in that mess]. I basically think they’ll keep Phillips out of loyalty / to save face. At the end of the day, who chats with the refs doesn’t make a world of difference to the team. Leaders are leaders. It’s not like Turris or Karlsson are worse without the letter nor are Philly and Neil better WITH it. What’s more important to me is that how I think the team “has” to hang on to Phillips now and how that is complicated with the emergence of Ceci, the improvement of Gryba and Mark Borowiecki’s one way deal kicking in next season. That is a heafty blueline for 2014-15. Sure Corvo is gone after this season but stll:
      Cowen – Karlsson
      Methot – Gryba
      Phillips – Ceci / Wiercioch / Borowiecki
      Like seriously are they going to potentially sit TWO defenders day in and day out? The only guy you could move there is Gryba which is a shame as I too think he’s gotten really quite solid. Again, I think he’d be perfect in Phillips’ role. Younger, bigger, meaner, cheaper. Cowen and Wiercioch aren’t going anywhere. At this point they both have contracts that I don’t see anyone taking a chance on. People keep talking about how Tim Murray wants Cowen. Does Bry-Bry seriously want to trade a hulking defenseman to a divisional rival? As for Borowiecki, well, to lose him would just be a whole lot of development down the drain. Methot, I just think they should hang onto. He’s a good player. Keep those!
      What I’m saying is here…I blame Alfie.

  2. I’d be pretty happy getting Neil and Greening shipped out of town for even a 7th. I’m resigned to Phillips resign.

    Good thing the Sens got some money for them to do something silly with.

  3. Hi. It’s your mother calling. Great post.

    MacLean did say that the reason a player like Ceci can come into the league and flourish is because he was paired with Phillips so much. So maybe there’s some intangibles there. But other than that, I agree with you completely. I’d maybe even go a bit further and suggest that Ottawa has gotten the concept of a team ‘core’ wrong.

    Most teams draft elite talent, hand them the keys to the franchise, and move all of the pieces around them. Ottawa, on the other hand, has a leadership core comprised of three players who are all near-past or past their prime. Neil, by every measurable indicator, isn’t a good hockey player. Phillips is a solid veteran presence squeezed out by younger and cheaper options. Spezza is a supremely talented and very flawed player. Neil and Spezza are both players with bad habits you wouldn’t want to be passed on to younger players.

    So now we have an awkward situation where your captain, who makes $7MM a year, is playing on the third line with plugs, where Neil plays on the fourth line with plugs, and there Phillips is seeing lesser competition. Meanwhile, the line of Turris, MacArthur and Ryan are driving the boat. And Karlsson is one of the best defensemen of his generation.

    So, yeah…giving the captaincies to people who have been with the franchise a long time has the stink of the self-legitimizing to it.


    Okay, I can’t believe any team ever once wanted either of these guys. Maybe I’m being a little too hard on them (*attempts to curb ageist tendencies re: hockey players*), but I’m agreeing with your Gryba = Phillips comparison here, and I don’t even like Gryba either. As for Neil, people have said Murray wants a fighter and that Neil is better than some fighters out there but… nahhhh. I’m just doomed to be annoyed at Neil for the next two years, because I’m not making peace with them. *folds arms* *grumpgrump*

  5. I too fear Phillips will be re-signed, but really Murray has to be smarter than that. How the hell are you gonna go forward with those 8 d-men and potentially Fredrik Claesson pushing for playing time (in my dreams anyways…)? The likelihood of Phillips being the worst d-man on the team next year is too damn high.

    This isn’t one of those harmless sentimental moves like signing Knopka or Corey Locke. Get his old ass out of there (love you Chris).

    So I will remain hopeful that the guy will just go away. And when he doesn’t complain hysterically.

  6. Lemme start out with some lyrics from a real catchy tune that resonates still:
    “Radio, live transmission.
    Radio, live transmission.

    Listen to the silence, let it ring on.
    Eyes, dark grey lenses frightened of the sun.
    We would have a fine time living in the night,
    Left to blind destruction,
    Waiting for our sight.”

    See that word about grey lenses? THOSE ARE MURRAY’S GLASSES.
    See that first word about silence? That’s Phillips’ zone exits, a big fat 0, and the shot attempts against him, a resounding JELLYBEANILLION.

    Look, we all know that since Alfie left us for that svelte but aging cougarsson in Detroit because Eugene is CHEAPER THAN EBENEZER SCROOGE AT A YARD SALE!!! that Phillips is the heir apparent to the “Hey, I’m drafted by Sens and I played here a long time” award. So he IS getting signed, because Murray is a sucker for aging vets with declining talent.

    That means we aren’t really contending for the Cup until 2018 or so. I’m fine with this.
    I just hope Eugene isn’t cheap then.

    • You receive $100 in WTYKY Crime Bucks for your Joy Division reference! Spend* them wisely!

      Euge will tear us apart.

      *WTYKY Crime Bucks are only accepted at the WTYKY Company Store

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