Family focus for Foligno

Nick Foligno says he’s excited to play against his former Ottawa Senators teammates for the first time here Tuesday, but you can forgive him for spending little idle time thinking about the contest.

Nick Foligno #71 of the Columbus Blue Jackets watches the action against the Buffalo Sabres on October 10, 2013 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nick Foligno says he’s excited to play against his former Ottawa Senators teammates for the first time here Tuesday, but you can forgive him for spending little idle time thinking about the contest.

Foligno’s thoughts have never strayed far from his wife, Janelle, and newborn daughter, Milana Maria, who was born last month with a heart condition which has required never-ending attention. The Blue Jackets gave him a week away from the club so he could provide support in any way possible.

He’s back playing again, but he’s keeping his fingers crossed for better days ahead.

“It’s day by day, we’re just trying to make sure she’s as good as can be,” Foligno told The Citizen in a phone interview Monday. “We’re not out of the woods yet. We still have to go to Boston for surgery. We’re awaiting the next stage and maybe there will be a few surgeries.”

Foligno, a left who was drafted by the Senators in the first round (28th overalll) of the 2006 entry draft, had some big moments in an Ottawa uniform, but was unable to secure himself a permanent spot on one of the Senators top two lines. He was traded to the Blue Jackets for Ottawa-born and Ottawa-bred defenceman Marc Methot on July 1, 2012, a move that originally came as a shock to him.

With no-inter Conference play during the lockout shortened 2013 season and with Columbus then in the Western Conference, Foligno and Methot had no chance to play against their former teams. Now, 16 months later, Foligno has settled into Columbus and could be playing on a line with Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik Tuesday.

“I’m excited about it, but things change,” he said. “It’s a bit of a different team (in Ottawa). Teams are always changing and that’s hockey. There is still a great group of guys in Ottawa, with some of the same core guys from when I was there. But this is a great organization and the place is a lot like Ottawa.”

In many ways, the Blue Jackets start has mirrored that of the Senators. The Blue Jackets own a 5-8-0 record and lost back to back weekend games to Pittsburgh, running their winless streak to three games. While goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy for leading the Blue Jackets to the brink of a playoff spot last season, he has been merely average so far this season.

“We’re still trying to find our identity,” Foligno said. “We’re getting away from what makes us successful. It’s just growing pains. The thing is, they aren’t things that we can’t fix.”

Sound familiar?

Meanwhile, as the Senators continue to search for their identity, Methot is also looking forward to playing his long-awaited first game against his old team.

“It’s weird,” said Methot. “It has been a couple of seasons now since I’ve had a chance to play there. A lot of the players are gone now, they’ve made a lot of trades. Five of the guys I played with in Columbus are now in New York (with the Rangers). I keep in touch with Jared Boll, but there are a lot of people off the ice that I still talk to.

“I lived there for a long time, so I laid some pretty strong roots there.”

During the Blue Jackets ultimately unsuccesful run to the playoffs last season, Methot openly cheered for Columbus to make it to the post-season.

“The fans deserve to have a good winning team there and I think they’re obviously on their way,” he said. “We had a couple of tough seasons there. We did have one decent year where we made the playoffs. That city is capable of coming together when you have a pretty good product on the ice. It’s pretty impressive.”

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