With the Ottawa Senators in full-blown fire sale mode, having already jettisoned veterans Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, and most recently Jarkko Ruutu in exchange for future draft picks - there's a sense in the Sens' dressing room that it's just a matter of time before other veterans are traded away.
And while some vets might jump at the chance to move from the struggling team to a playoff contender, 12-year veteran defenceman Chris Phillips isn't one of them; he wants to stick around for the rebuild.
There is little doubt that Ottawa will be a much younger - and much greener - team next year, but Phillips said the team will still need some veterans to lead the way for the young players, a role he would like to take on.
"I think you need some veteran guys that have been around to help and guide young guys coming in," said Phillips. "I'm okay and would take on that responsibility along with a couple other guys that have been here a long time. It's not the easiest thing to do, and there could be some growing pains with that, but that is a possibility and if that ends up happening, then you make the most of any situation."
Phillips remains a prime candidate to be traded - he's in the final year of a four-year contract that pays him $3.5 million per season and several teams would like to add his grit and experience on the blue line for the playoff run. He does have a no-trade clause, but may be asked to waive it if general manager Bryan Murray wants to move him.
The Calgary native, who has spent his entire 13-year career in Ottawa, said that it's tough to see so many veterans being shipped out of town.
"It's not easy," said Phillips. "I don't know what else to say. It's tough to take, seeing guys that have been mainstays around this dressing room for a long time being moved out. We know it's reality in the game today but it doesn't make it any easier."
A former first-overall draft pick in 1996, Phillips has amassed four assists and a minus-27 rating for the Senators through 57 games this season. He isn't sure what all the Sens' trades mean in regards to his long-term future with the team.
"I don't know if there's more room for me or more chance of being asked to go [after the trades]. I'm really not sure, but we'll see what happens here in the next 10 days or so."
At least for now, Phillips remains a Senator, and he said he will just take it step-by-step until the February 28 trade deadline.
I'm not sure what'll happen; we'll see. It really is a day at a time here," said Phillips. "But it's been pretty much status quo in terms of my own situation."
- with files from TSN Reporter Brent Wallace