Nick Foligno was asked yesterday which team - Ottawa or Columbus - got the better end of a July 2012 deal that saw him dealt to the Blue Jackets and Marc Methot to the Senators.
After a wry grin and a chuckle, he said: "Columbus, for sure. But I have to go out and prove it tomorrow."
Tomorrow is now today and the Blue Jackets face the Senators for the first time since that trade, one that sent Methot to his hometown team and gave Foligno a much-deserved opportunity for more ice time and a chance to grow his game. Both players have fit in seamlessly in their new surroundings and the Folignos have started their family in Columbus, a place they loved right off the bat and couldn't be happier to call home.
"We all get moved around and I'm really happy to be here," Foligno said. "This has worked out really well for me. I was excited to come (to Columbus) when I heard the news. I'm not looking back with any regrets, I'm only looking forward. I'm excited about what we're going to do with this team here."
When the deal went down just after unrestricted free agency began in 2012, both sides called it a "hockey deal" that helped each club. The Blue Jackets used a surplus of NHL-caliber defensemen to acquire help up front, and trading for Foligno was only the start of Columbus' facelift at the forward position.
He was the right fit for a team that was undergoing an identity formation, too. The Blue Jackets, who were on the verge of trading former captain Rick Nash, wanted to become a more balanced group up front and also become more versatile; Foligno's ability to play all three forward positions and log minutes in all situations served as proof of that.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards, who became the club's full-time coach a couple of months before Foligno was acquired, has been impressed with Foligno since he arrived. Richards has used him in a checking role - during last year's playoff run alongside Ryan Johansen and RJ Umberger - and also in a top-six scoring role. Most recently, he lined up on Columbus' top unit with Marian Gaborik and Artem Anisimov.
Richards said that while the Blue Jackets are happy with the player they received in the deal, the Senators are likely saying the same thing.
"He’s a guy that is able to work in tight areas and come out of it to make a play," Richards said of Foligno. "That’s one thing I saw out of him last season; it’s ‘battle, battle, battle’ and then work off the wall to make a play. For us, he’s been valuable. I’m sure (Ottawa) probably looks at it the same way we do here. It looks like Methot has worked in well there and has done some good things for their team.
"Whenever you get traded, sometimes that’s a shock to the system, a wake-up call or whatever it is. Maybe you feel more comfortable, maybe it’s the coach or maybe it’s the players. Usually when you do get traded, there’s something there that provokes or gets you (going).”
In his first game against the team that drafted him, Foligno said he isn't sure what to expect. He remains close friends with several of the Senators, but his focus is on picking up two points and getting the Blue Jackets back on track.
"They're all good players and good friends," Foligno said. "I played with those guys a long time and I still have some friendships over there. But I'm really enjoying my time here and with this group of guys, so it'll be fun to face off against them. I think I know a few of their tricks of the trade, so hopefully we can take advantage of that.
"It's excitement, yeah, but you obviously want to do well and I want the team to do well. I think that's the biggest thing. I'm just going to go out there and try to help the team win. I think we're all looking forward to get on a good streak here starting with Ottawa."