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Foligno plans to keep hugging it out with his goalies

Captain embraced Korpisalo with a flying leap after season's first win

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

Nick Foligno and Joonas Korpisalo have tried a few different things for post-win celebrations over the four-plus years they've been together on the Blue Jackets roster. 

There have been handshakes, but those are too boring. There have been headbutts, but, well, there's an obvious issue there. 

"We're going to get conkies from those," Korpisalo said after a January win last season, with "conkies" a slang term for concussions. "We have to figure out something else." 

The latest celebration, and perhaps one here to stay, took place Monday night after the Blue Jackets' first win of the season. At the end of the team's postgame handshake line, Foligno revved up and jumped into Korpisalo's arms to celebrate the Blue Jackets' 4-3 overtime victory against the Sabres. 

Tweet from @BlueJacketsNHL: JUMP, JUMP, JUMP AROUND pic.twitter.com/lYZYuuK8md

Korpisalo, weighed down by goalie gear, appeared to try to leap with him but didn't get too far off the ground. Foligno, meanwhile, might not have been Air Jordan but did get some excellent height on his jump.  

"I've been working on my leap," Foligno said with a laugh. "I was just happy -- for him. I think it was fun to do something different. Obviously the hug is well talked about, but I thought we'd try our own little spin on it." 

Of course, THE hug was created a number of years ago by Foligno and former Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. As the upstart Blue Jackets rallied late in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season to try to earn a playoff bid -- a run that finished just a tiebreaker short of postseason play -- the two first-year Jackets put a point on every win with an embrace. 

The hug got bigger and bigger throughout the year, but Foligno forgot about it the next season. Bobrovsky suggested bringing it back, and from there, a Blue Jackets ritual was born, the kind of thing that kept fans in their seats and earned a loud cheer after each victory.  

Bobrovsky is gone now, of course, having left in free agency for Florida, but a postgame goalie celebration lives on. That's because it's a key piece of the puzzle for the enthusiastic CBJ captain, especially when it comes to Korpisalo, who earned the respect of the locker room by working hard while patiently waiting his turn over the past few seasons.  

"I want to win as many games as possible so I'll do any crazy thing to get a win," Foligno said. "More for me, it's building that relationship with Korpi and showing him how much we care about him and what he's doing for our team, and we're behind him 100 percent. 

"I felt the same way with Bob, or any goalie I play with. They're a big part of why you win, and you want them feeling really good about themselves." 

It took three games into the season for the Blue Jackets to have a chance to break out the embrace, but there was a plan in place. Korpisalo said the two talked about a week before the season about a celebration, but he was still taken aback a little bit by having all 208 pounds of Foligno flying into his arms. 

"I almost lost my breath," Korpisalo said with a smile after practice Wednesday. "It still hurts my chest a little bit. We were kind of figuring on something after games, and we tried that one." 

Foligno expects similar celebrations after each game, but the captain thinks he and his goaltenders will look more graceful as the year goes on. 

"We got a little higher than we expected," he said. "It's our first one. We'll perfect it."  

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