Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips was drafted first overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. This feat was made all the more remarkable considering the diffcult obstacles he faced while growing up. Currently in his fifth NHL season, Phillips wears jersey number 4, shoots on the left, and is 6'3" and 213 lbs.
Born on March 9, 1978 in Fort McMurray, Alberta, like most young Canadians Phillips began playing hockey at a young age. Phillips played hockey in the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Fort McMurray Barons, and stayed there even after he'd decided to attempt to play hockey professionally. Although staying in Fort McMurray wasn't the best career path, Phillips had little choice. In 1988 his mother Carol was paralyzed from the waist down after contracting a virus. Two years later his father, Garth, was declared legally blind as a result of diabetes. From the age of 10, Phillips had assumed a large responsibility in caring for his parents, and as a result delayed his jump to the Western Hockey League until his older sister Jennifer finished college in 1995.
After being drafted at number one in 1996, the Ottawa Senators' coaching staff thought it would be best to allow Phillips to develop in the WHL, away from the NHL media spotlight. Phillips began the 1996-97 WHL season playing with the Prince Albert Raiders before being traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who went on to win the WHL title that season. Phillips recorded 48 points in 58 games that year, and was named a first team All-Star and the WHL's defenseman of the year. During this season Phillips also headed to Switzerland to compete in the World Junior Hockey Championships, where the Canadians took the gold medal, Chris's second in two years playing in the tournament.
At 19 years of age, Phillips cracked the Senators' roster in 1997, making his debut on October 1, 1997, against the Montreal Canadiens. Blessed at a young age with the steely nerves of a hockey veteran, and amazing speed for his size, Phillips has had many successful seasons as an Ottawa Senator. Paired with 6'9" behemoth Zdeno Chara, his defensive abilities have been a huge factor in the Sens' 2002-2003 President's Cup victory and will continue to play a large role in their future Stanley Cup hopes.