Boston Bruins, Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nick Foligno, Rick Nash

Bruins’ Nick Foligno Will Always Have a Home in Columbus

Saturday night at TD Garden will be a special night for Boston Bruins’ forward Nick Foligno. His former team the Columbus Blue Jackets will be in the building to celebrate the occasion.

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The Bruins will be holding a pregame ceremony to honor Foligno’s 1,000 games in the NHL. Foligno played in his 1,000th game on Mar 15 in Chicago against the Blackhawks. It’s only appropriate that the Blue Jackets are the opponent for the festivities.

Big Game Foligno

Foligno spent nine seasons and played in 599 games for the Blue Jackets while being named their captain under head coach John Tortorella. In terms of franchise numbers, Foligno sits near the top of the leaderboard in several categories.

  • 599 Games: Third behind Rick Nash (674) and Cam Atkinson (627)
  • 142 Goals: Fourth behind Nash (289), Atkinson (213) and Boone Jenner (144)
  • 192 Assists: Third behind Nash (258) and David Vyborny (204)
  • 334 Points: Third behind Nash (547) and Atkinson (402)
  • 21 Game-Winning Goals: Fourth behind Nash (44), Atkinson (42) and Jenner (23)

Foligno will be remembered for two of the most important goals in Blue Jackets’ playoff history. The first one won Game 4 of their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime back in 2014.

The other goal might not stand out to the naked eye. But as it turned out, the goal became the turning point that led to one of the greatest upsets in Stanley Cup Playoff history. The Tampa Bay Lightning were supposed to steamroll the Blue Jackets. Foligno’s goal in Game 1 turned the tide and gave his team momentum they’d never relinquish again in that series.

Ryan McDonough’s turnover went to a driving Foligno and he made no mistake on Andrei Vasilevskiy. That goal made the sweep possible. At a time when his team needed a defining moment, Captain Foligno came through yet again.

For Foligno, it wasn’t just about his offense. When the situation called for it, he stepped in and confronted opponents no matter who it was. Case in point was Game 3 of the sweep. Steven Stamkos at the end of game through a sucker punch at Foligno. The response and facial expression by Foligno after said it all.

Foligno embodied everything that was Blue Jackets’ hockey. He will be remembered forever in franchise history for his contributions on the ice. But he is elevated to Blue Jackets’ legend for everything he did off the ice and for the community at large.

Foligno’s Immeasurable Off-Ice Impact

Whether it was his work with Nationwide Children’s Hospital or his work with the Janis Foligno Foundation, Nick has always had a heart for others. His family donated $1 million between Nationwide Children’s and Boston Children’s Hospital. His daughter Milana had a heart procedure done at just three weeks old.

Then most recently, his wife Janelle and family helped create “The Hearts Playbook.” What started with some words on paper in a hospital room turned into a children’s book. “Dear Heart” was written by Janelle. She noticed that there wasn’t much literature out there for young people who would be going down the same path Milana did. She made sure there was moving forward.

Related: Following the Foligno’s: Inside “The Hearts Playbook.”

Foligno poured everything he had into Columbus and being the face of the Blue Jackets as their captain. He arrived in Columbus fresh off a trade from the Ottawa Senators after spending his first five seasons there. He worked his way up the depth chart and ultimately became one of the leaders of the team. And then even though Tortorella wasn’t convinced he could do it, they named Foligno their captain. He exceeded every expectation thrown at him.

Foligno’s Post Columbus Career

Then came the hard part. The Blue Jackets’ playoff run was over. Gone were several core players. The trade deadline was approaching. Everyone knew it was time to move on to the next phase. Even in this difficult moment, the Blue Jackets treated Foligno with the same class he treated them with for so long. A trade was agreed to with Foligno knowing what was going on. Both sides have benefited.

Foligno went to the Maple Leafs. Although it was a first-round exit, he got in some playoff games. Then he signed with the Bruins afterwards. The decision in part was to be in Boston in the same town that helped his daughter Milana have a chance at life.

Nick Foligno Boston Bruins
Nick Foligno is with the Bruins now, but his home will always be Columbus. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Foligno has had to overcome a slew of injuries since arriving in Boston, but he is starting to find his groove and a clear role on the bottom-six. Coach Bruce Cassidy loves having a player like Foligno down there to provide leadership and experience to that group. He remains defensively responsible and plays an honest game.

Foligno skated on the fourth line in the morning skate on Saturday and is in position to play the game in which he will be honored. His entire career deserves praise and recognition. But it’s what he did to Columbus and the Blue Jackets that will having a lasting impact on the franchise.

Columbus is Foligno’s Home

Foligno embraced everything about the team especially at a time when they were struggling to find an identity. He helped shape the course of the Tortorella era and was part of them making four consecutive playoff appearances. That had never happened in team history.

When you think of the players who made the most impact for them, Foligno is near the top of that list. It was no accident the recent ceremony for Rick Nash was done the night the Bruins were in town. It was only appropriate for Foligno to be a part of this historic moment.

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So when Foligno finally decides to hang them up, don’t be surprised if he returns to the Blue Jackets in some capacity should he want to get involved in the front office. He will always have a place within Nationwide Arena waiting for him.

Home is truly where the heart is. For Foligno, his heart has been and will always remain with the Blue Jackets. For the Bruins to have this ceremony done on the only night the Blue Jackets are in Boston is no accident.

Saturday night will be emotional for anyone involved with the Blue Jackets. One of their greatest players is being recognized for everything he’s done for the game.

For Foligno, Columbus is home. That will never change no matter which jersey he’s wearing now.

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