Before Nick Foligno signed a free agent deal with the Boston Bruins, there were a few insiders that believed he might return to the Toronto Maple Leafs and make good on a deal that didn’t really pan out as expected. Many fans believed the failed experiment that was him trying Toronto might ultimately lead to him going back to Columbus where he spent the better part of eight seasons. He did neither and chose Boston.
Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch recently wrote an article detailing why Foligno made the choice he did and from Foligno’s own words, “Boston was a team that checked more boxes for me.”
Foligno considered four teams. He was interested in signing with the Maple Leafs until they told him the role they were hoping he’d play. He was interested in Columbus until it became evident that they were moving in a different direction, and he also seriously looked at the Minnesota Wild, where he could have played with his brother Marcus. The combination of Boston’s desire to win, how they wanted to use him, and it being home to a hospital that included a surgical team that saved his daughter’s life.
Why Not the Blue Jackets?
It’s not entirely clear how high the Blue Jackets were on his list, but it was clear they weren’t moving up that list after Foligno talked to Cam Atkinson. A long-time Blue Jacket, no one thought Atkinson would be traded, so when he told Foligno about the deal that sent him the Philadelphia Flyers, he thought Atkinson was joking. It wasn’t a joke.
Foligno said, “I was dying laughing.” He added, “Of course, that happens in those moments, right? But I think that’s kind of what showed me the direction they’re going, just in the sense that, ‘OK we’re trying to get a new core here. We’re trying to build something for the future.’”
He still calls it one of his bigger career regrets, but it was pretty clear everyone was moving on.
Why Not the Maple Leafs?
Hedger writes that Toronto wanted a mentor, whose impact would mostly be off the ice. GM Kyle Dubas thought Foligno might be a good fit. Meanwhile, the Bruins wanted to chase a Stanley Cup in the final years of the Patrice Bergeron era, and to do that, felt they needed a “veteran forward with some bite.”
It came down to the fact that Toronto likely wanted Foligno to be more a role player without being expected to contribute a lot. Boston wanted to give him the responsibility of being a factor each and every night.
Why Not the Wild?
Playing with his brother might still be in the cards. “I’ve always said that dream of playing with Marcus has always been there” he noted. Foligno isn’t ruling it out. He added, “hopefully it’ll still be there … maybe in a couple years.”
In other words, Foligno will see how these couple years in Boston go. He might be moved, he might not be, but he’s imaging that he’ll be playing long enough to give himself a chance to make another decision in the final years of his career. At that time, he’ll choose whatever team Marcus is on, should that team be interested.
In the end, it was the Bruins and an overall better fit for where he’s at in his career right now.
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