Nick Foligno joined the TSN TradeCentre broadcast to discuss his first reaction to the trade to Toronto and where he sees himself fitting into the Leafs’ lineup.
How did you hear about the trade? Where were you, and what was your immediate reaction?
Foligno: This was a unique one. It’s why I have so much respect for Jarmo. He kept me in tune with what was going on in trying to make a deal. It’s obviously one that will benefit the organization, but just in our time together, it’s one that would hopefully allow me to kind of pick my spot in a place where I can make an impact.
When the opportunity came to come to Toronto, I just felt it was the right move. I felt it in my gut that it was just where I wanted to go and try to help. Knowing how good that team is already, I am trying to come in there, play my style of game, and make an impact that way.
Obviously, it is still a shock when he said the deal is done. I haven’t really been a part of this since I was traded here nine years ago, and that was in the summer. There is a lot more emotion that goes into it, especially with the way this year has gone and my role on the team in Columbus.
Once you kind of put all of that side, I am thrilled to be getting this opportunity in Toronto. I am going to make the most of it.
Did it reach a point where you were presented with a few different options of where you could go, and you said it was Toronto where you want to go to?
Foligno: I think there were a couple of different options. Toronto, by the end of it, really had the better of the options that would benefit Columbus. It was a win-win in a lot of different situations for both sides.
Toronto was a team I always had my eye on, knowing from afar how good they are. It was just more of the right fit. Any team that was looking at me I was very appreciative of. It could’ve gone either way, but I just felt the fit I could have and the impact I could make in Toronto was where I felt I could really be that player.
It ended up working out that way. It benefitted Columbus, which is great and I feel good about. Now I have an opportunity to go and try to help this team. I am jumping in with two feet. I am really looking forward to this opportunity.
One of the reasons Toronto was a good fit on their end is that they feel you fit in multiple places in their lineup. Have they told you where they are going to start you? Would you love to be up there with Marner and Matthews or Tavares and Nylander? Perhaps centering a third line? In your ideal world, where do you see Nick Foligno with the Leafs?
Foligno: If you know me, I just want to go where I am going to help. I know that sounds cliche, but that’s how I feel. If you need me in a defensive role in a game, I will try to take that on. If you need me on the offensive side of it to help push the top six, absolutely, I feel like I can help in that regard. I have kind of been that for our team here in Columbus for a while. Whatever is needed, Torts has been able to move me around. I have enjoyed that role.
That is why I feel like I can fit really well in Toronto. On a night when those guys are going, I can maybe be helping in a shutdown aspect. If we need some more jam up front, I can try to provide that. Let’s not kid ourselves. They are a really good team already. I am just going in there to try to help with what I can bring and make sure I am doing it the way I know how: with my work ethic, trying to pull those guys along that way, and complementing the pieces that are already there.
There is a human side to being traded. What was your family’s reaction, and how do you handle going up to Canada for the rest of the season?
Foligno: That was the hardest part. They are not going to join me, obviously, with the way the quarantine rules are and how they are set up here in Columbus with school and activities. It would be unfair to them, in a way.
I think they know this is an opportunity for Dad to chase his dream. The support I have from an incredible wife and kids — they are my rock and the reason I do what I do. It will be hard not having them there, but I know they want me to go and chase this. It was a really cute conversation around the dinner table last night when I told them. My youngest boys didn’t quite understand. They just wanted to know who the hockey players were and who the goalie was. My daughter is older and understands, and it was a little harder to have that conversation with her.
They are in a safe place here and they’re set up. I can go do my job and what is expected of me to help this team. That is my focus now. It usually is at this time of the year anyway. As you start getting closer to the playoffs, the mind shifts to more of a, “This is the time to hunker down and get ready to do the job.” I am looking forward to doing that in Toronto and helping any way I can.
Are you prepared for the media circus up in Toronto?
Foligno: I am not sure you are ever ready, but I am just looking forward to the fun that we are going to have. That’s all it is. At this point in my career, pressure is an opportunity. It is what it is at this time. I welcome it. I am looking forward to it. I am sure it will get crazy at some points, but I am just going to work through it as I always will and have a blast with you guys.