He may be Nick the new guy, but you get the feeling Nick Foligno never feels like the new guy for very long.
With his outgoing personality and ready smile, its doubtful the Buffalo native and son of former NHLer Mike Foligno has ever had any trouble fitting in with any team. So its not hard to believe him when he says the move to Columbus from Ottawa has been very smooth so far, at least in the locker room.
Its been pretty easy, said Foligno, who was acquired in a trade last summer for Marc Methot. Theyre such an easygoing, great group of guys here, and they make you feel welcome, so thats not an issue.
So now that he has the locker room camaraderie thing down pat, what about the hockey? How big is that challenge, coming to a new town and a new team and having had all of five days of training camp to get ready for an NHL season?
Its tough, Foligno admitted. Its obviously a little bit of a challenge not having the three-week training camp that were used to and getting the systems down, figuring out exactly what the coaches want and how they want it to work.
But the 60, 210-lb. winger is confident he and the team will find their stride quickly, despite the truncated training camp and the five new faces on the roster. He thinks the Blue Jackets accomplished a lot in their pre-season practices and off-ice video sessions. Even for the new guys, he says, the teams systems and responsibilities are becoming clearer. And so is the chemistry hes starting to feel on the ice.
As you start to skate with a guy more, you get a little more comfortable with him. Ive been with Johansen and Prospal a little bit, and Letestu. You know, theyre all great players. Were all trying to do our best, and Im sure the chemistry will continue to come.
Like his fellow new Blue Jackets teammates Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Sergei Bobrovsky, Foligno is now in the Western Conference after spending his entire career in the East. He knows itll be another adjustment, but one hes happy to make.
You know itll take some getting used to for sure, he acknowledged. I think the travel more than anything will be a lot different. In the East there are a lot of day trips, and youre back that night. But now its obviously going to be longer road trips. But Im excited. There are a lot of great teams in the West that youd love to face, so itll be a new challenge for me, and Im looking forward to it.
As for his new city, you can call Foligno a big fan. He raved about having lots to do in Columbus and the friendliness of the people. And now that he calls the city home, hes ready for the biggest challenge of all, new guy or not. That would be helping the Blue Jackets rise to the level of elite teams in the NHL. Foligno relishes the chance to be a part of that turnaround.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Thats something I would definitely take a lot of pride in, and every guy in this locker room would take a lot of pride in that, he said. We want to become a winning team; we want to become a great organization. I think were on the right track; you see all the people theyve put in place and the direction they want to go, from the coaching staff to the players. I think its on the up around here, and its great. Its a good feeling in the room. Now its just demanding excellence on the ice.
Im really happy Im here, he added. Im going to do my best to help the team win and try to be a leader on and off the ice and just try to be a good teammate. If we all do that, I think were going to have a lot of success.
Now theres an attitude that fits on any team anywhere, from day one. Just like Nick Foligno.