It's time for #4. Over the course of the Senators 20-year history, only #4 and #11 have been worn in every season. #4 has been worn every season but has only been worn by 3 players in that time - one fewer than #11. All 3 played or play defense, all 3 wore or wear an "A" on their jersey.
Brad Shaw D 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1994-1995
A draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 1982, Shaw never played for the organization that drafted him, but did play for the Hartford Whalers, Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals, and St. Louis Blues during his 11-year NHL career. Shaw's career +/- without his Ottawa totals factored in? -5. With his Ottawa totals factored in? -93.
Sean Hill D 1995-1996, 1996-1997, 1997-1998
Hill's first appearance in this series was in the previous entry on #3. Hill's 13 games with Ottawa in 1997-1998 are the reason Chris Phillips did not start his career with the Sens wearing his customary #4.
Chris Phillips D 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004,
2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012
Ottawa's gold-standard at #4. While not as dominant as many first-overall picks, Chris has had one of the most successful NHL careers of anyone in his draft class. His 14 years of service is second only to Daniel Alfredsson in club history. While there have been some tough times, Phillips has also provided many memorable moments during his career with the Senators. His OT winner in game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the New Jersey Devils in 2003 helped the Sens live to fight another day, even if game 7 broke our hearts. More recently, Phillips scored 2 goals, including the game-winning goal, in his 1,000th NHL game in February, 2012.
Best #4: Chris Phillips
Not much debate here. That's not to take away anything from Shaw or Hill, but it's hard for any Ottawa defenseman to compare with Chris. Phillips is now in the twilight of his career and questions about his legacy are becoming more focused. It is not a question of whether Phillips is the franchise's best #4 ever, but rather, will anyone wear #4 for Ottawa again? Will Chris join Daniel Alfredsson as the only players in the history of the modern franchise to have their numbers retired? Phillips' longevity and loyalty will surely count for something in this debate as will his years of dedicated leadership. However, defensive excellence is harder to quantify and advanced statistics are a recent development. Consequently, many of his earlier seasons are statistically incomplete in terms of advanced statistics. His sharp decline over the past two seasons will surely count against him as well. However the Senators choose to remember Chris Phillips when his playing days are over, he will remain in the minds of many as Ottawa's only #4.
Worst #4: Sean Hill
It was close, but Hill's first season, which was a productive one, came while he was wearing #3 and his final two seasons were shortened considerably by injury and trade. Both Hill and Shaw have poor +/- numbers (while playing on some admittedly horrible teams), but Shaw was more of an offensive threat during his time in the black, white, and red, making Hill the worst #4, by the numbers.