has already seen enough of both to know which way he’d prefer to travel. Reason enough, he figures, to concentrate all his energy on a single route in his second year of professional hockey.
“My prime goal is to make sure I’m an Ottawa Senator for the whole year (in 2008-09),” said Foligno, who arrived at the team’s development camp this week with that one thought in mind. “This year, I got a good taste in my mouth and I definitely want to make sure I solidify a spot for next season.”
Foligno started his rookie season in Ottawa and was there long enough to celebrate his first career National Hockey League goal with the same zeal – the trademark Foligno Leap – his father, Mike, often showed during his playing days in Buffalo and Toronto.
It wasn’t long after, though, that the younger Foligno was sent down to the Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. The first demotion cut harshly and it wouldn’t be the last – Foligno would play 28 games for the B-Sens and 45 with the big club, scoring six goals in both places.
All of it hammered home a very real fact of life about hockey in the NHL.
“It’s a business,” said Foligno. “I learned that if you’re not performing the way they need you to, then you’re not going to be around very long. You have to find a way to perform at the best (level) each and every (game) night and each and every day in practice.
“If you’re not, they’re going to let you know about it or they’re going to send you down…. You’ve got to come mentally focused as well as physically prepared. That’s the biggest thing. That’s what separates the boys from the men. I learned that pretty quick this year.”
A rash of injuries led to one final recall just before the playoffs and Foligno played some of his best hockey of the season in that first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was an experience he believes should pay dividends in the season ahead.
“That was tremendous for me,” he said. “It gives you a feel for what it’s like in the playoff atmosphere and how hard you have to work. I kind of proved to myself that I can step it up a notch and that was a good thing for me.”
Senators general manager Bryan Murray has challenged Foligno to do what’s necessary to become a second- or third-line regular next season. So far, at least, he’s “really stepped up to the challenge,” said director of player development Randy Lee.
Now it’s a matter of continuing down that path over the summer.
“It’s just overall strength,” Foligno said of the area he needs to focus on. “That’s something that, as a young person, you’re always going to need to develop. I think that’s something I’ve been hitting on pretty hard already this summer.”
This week’s camp offers an early check of his progress since the Senators’ season ended in mid-April.
“It kind of gives you a look-see at how everyone else is developing and it gets you back in there and you get some feedback from (the Senators staff),” said Foligno. “You’re also skating in front of them, so they’re going to give you some pointers and give you something to go back home and work on.
“I think it’s a great little camp to see where you’re at in the midway point (of the off-season).”
All on-ice workouts during the camp are open to the public, including today’s 1:30-3:30 p.m. session at the Bell Sensplex. Visit Sens TV online every day for exclusive video from development camp.