Jackets20: Nick Foligno has been so much more for the Columbus Blue Jackets than just a player on the ice

Foligno has been an integral member of the club since his first day here, buying in and helping lead the team to success.

On July 1, 2012, the Blue Jackets made a hockey trade that would change the future of the organization, sending veteran defenseman Marc Methot to the Ottawa Sentors in exchange for a forward coming off a breakout campaign - Nick Foligno.

Then-General Manager Scott Howson was effusive in his praise of their newly-acquired forward:

“Nick is a versatile, durable two-way player who at age 24 is coming off the best season of his career,” Howson said. “We’re excited about what he will add to our group of forwards and are very happy to have him join our hockey club.”

Foligno grew from a two-way player to the leader of the locker room during his time here. Let’s take a moment to reflect on his career in Columbus.

Foligno started slowly in Columbus, posting just 58 points in his first 115 games. In the 2014 postseason, however, Foligno produced one of the most iconic plays in Blue Jackets’ history, notching the winner for the first playoff victory on home ice in franchise history.

In the 2014-15 season, Foligno took off - 31 goals, 73 points, his first All Star appearance, and named captain of the All Star team in Columbus. After the season was over, the inevitable occured: Foligno was named the sixth captain in Blue Jackets history on May 20, 2015.

“We had a list of qualifications, if you want to call it that, and Nick’s the one that kept checking off the list both on and off the ice,” Kekalainen said. “He produces points and sticks up for his teammates; plays hockey the right way. Competes. Plays with a big heart but he also leads us off the ice in the community with saying the right things and knowing when not to say anything.”

Foligno would go on to win the King Clancy Trophy and Mark Messier Trophy for his leadership on the ice and in the community. Foligno and his wife Janelle donated $500,000 to Nationwide Children’s Hospital following the struggles of their daughter Milana, who was born with congenital heart defects.

Those of you who are frequent readers of the Cannon know - I have been extremely critical of Foligno over the last year or two, and upon reflection, a lot of that has been unfair. Deployment isn’t his fault. Line juggling and his placement and minutes distribution are not his fault. Those are issues with the coaching staff, and Foligno has sort of become my poster boy for those issues. For that, I should apologize to the player.

He may not be the player he was in his prime anymore, but Foligno is still a solid contributor and can be an asset if utilized properly. Perhaps that is why the Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly so high on bringing him in for a serious Cup run. Foligno still has a role in the NHL for the right team and price, and no one would begrudge him a chance to go win a Cup.

In addition to his value on the ice, Foligno has been a tremendous ambassador for the club and the city off the ice. We make fun of the Papa John’s commercials, but at least he was marketed and raising the awareness of the club. His work with Children’s Hospital is incredible and worthy of all of the praise in the world.

Foligno will go down as the captain of the most successful stretch to date in Blue Jackets history, a player who scored one of the most iconic goals in team history, and who has been a tremendous ambassador for the club during his time here.

He will go down as a Blue Jackets legend, one with more than a decade of time here, and who will in all likelihood see his number in the rafters one day.

Not bad for a July 1 trade. Kudos to you, Nick Foligno, for developing into so much more than just a player for the club and city.

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