Nick Foligno is officially a captain.
The NHL named Foligno captain of the home squad for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Wednesday afternoon. It’s been a busy start to the new year for Foligno, signing a contract extension with the Blue Jackets, being named to his first All-Star Game, and now being selected a captain for the event all within a span of 15 days.
“It’s been a fun ride, and it hasn’t even been the game yet. I’m really honored,” said Foligno, just a few hours before his Blue Jackets played the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night. “You look around at the players I’m playing with and the whole scene is going to be amazing. Just to have it in Columbus and to be the captain for our city is a pretty amazing feeling.”
Foligno is an All-Star for the first time in his NHL career, thanks to what has been a career-season for him in a Blue Jackets uniform. Foligno leads the Blue Jackets in goals (18) and points (40), and he has seized a leadership role on the ice and in the dressing room.
While Sergei Bobrovsky and Ryan Johansen will also represent the host Blue Jackets in the showcase, Foligno will have a bit more responsibility. He insists he hasn’t given much thought to his first pick ye, but did say that he had already gotten some text messages from around the league with suggestions, but he is more than willing to rely on the rest of his ‘staff’ for help.
Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings will join Foligno as assistant captains. Kane has played in three All-Star games, while Doughty’s heading to the game for the first time. Between Kane’s All-Star and playoff pedigree and Doughty’s two Stanley Cups, Foligno is happy to trust his draft partners’ ability to evaluate talent.
“I’m going to have to get with my assistant captains and figure something out here,” said Foligno regarding his draft strategy.
Foligno hasn’t participated in a player draft like this since choosing teams with the neighborhood kids for a street hockey game, certainly not in front of a podium and on national television. It remains to be seen if Foligno will follow NHL Draft etiquette protocol by complimenting the host city for its hospitality of congratulating the previous Stanley Cup Champions, but said he might consult Blue Jackets management for some advice on building a team.
“Maybe I’ll pick (John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen's) brains though, they’re pretty good at drafting as you can see,” said Foligno. “I don’t think I can go wrong though, looking at the lineup.”
That lineup consists of some of the best players in the world, including the game’s other captain, Jonathan Toews, and his assistant captains, Rick Nash of the Rangers and Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks. Foligno framed the weekend as a fun event for players and families, but also as an opportunity for players to talk with one another without the daily rigors of league competition.
“Those are world-class players and guys I have a lot of respect for in this league,” Foligno said in regards to his teammates. “It’ll be a lot of fun to talk with them and I’m sure we’ll have a lot of laughs with the whole event and picking the team, and going out there and having a lot of fun.”
“I enjoy being around all those guys and maybe, hopefully, picking up a few things from Patrick Kane and Drew Doughty to help us here in Columbus.”
While it is Foligno’s first NHL All-Star appearance, it’s not the first time Foligno is being thrown out on the ice with his league’s top performers. Foligno took part in the 2007 OHL All-Star Classic as a member of the Sudbury Wolves and notched a goal and an assist during the game. This game figures to be a little more laid back than Foligno’s last All-Star appearance, but he feels there is something to prove none the less.
“I’m representing the city, and I take that personally," he said. "It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase what Columbus is all about and how big of a hockey city it is. I’m really excited for the fans to show the hockey world what it’s all about.”