CHICAGO (AP) — Nick Foligno texted and called Connor Bedard over the summer, and the veteran had the rookie over to his home.
It was a full-circle moment for Foligno ahead of his 17th NHL season.
“It brings me back to when I was 19 and I came into the team and I had some really cool older guys to play with,” he said, "like (Daniel) Alfredsson, Mike Fisher and Wade Redden, and the list goes on. I remember going over to Alfie's house and his four kids, I think I had more in common with them than I did with Alfie at the time.
“It was funny to kind of go back to that and remember the feelings that I had and how much those guys helped me.”
Through two days of training camp in Chicago, it looks as if Foligno is well on his way to becoming one of the team's most popular players. He was among several veterans acquired by the Blackhawks in the offseason to add more leadership to the locker room and help with the development of some of their young players, namely Bedard.
The chance to pass along what he has learned during his long NHL career was an appealing situation for the 35-year-old Foligno.
“I think I'm really excited about just having that opportunity to pay it forward in that way,” he said Friday.
Foligno had 10 goals and 16 assists in 60 games with Boston last season. He was traded to Chicago in June, and then agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract with the Blackhawks.
While Foligno didn't know many of his teammates when he was acquired by Chicago, he had a connection to a couple players with the Blackhawks. He played with Seth Jones with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he also was teammates with Connor Murphy at the world championships.
“I’m excited for the dad jokes. He’s got many of them that he only laughs at himself,” Jones cracked. “He’s just a great guy. He’s a great leader in the room. He brings energy every day.”
Said Murphy: “He’s one of those guys, it’s hard not to like him.”
Foligno's father, Mike, played in the NHL for 15 years, and his brother, Marcus, plays for Minnesota. Nick Foligno has three kids of his own, two boys and one girl — all under the age of 10.
When Bedard — the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft — came over, it was quite a scene with Foligno's children.
“I had to give them the riot act, like ‘Don’t act crazy. Relax. He's just a person,'” Foligno said. “I think as soon as he walked in, they just handed him a mini stick and they're like ‘Let’s go.' Poor kid. He was down on his knees the whole day coming over. But I think he loved it more than they did probably.”
Bedard concurred, calling the visit a lot of fun.
“He’s been so good to me and he’s made me feel so comfortable, as well as all the young guys,” Bedard said of Foligno. “He’s such a good person, such a good role model. It’s great for me to have a guy like that.”
Foligno was selected by Ottawa in the first round of the 2006 draft. He broke into the league with the Senators the following year. He has 215 goals and 310 assists in 1,081 regular-season games.
As much as Foligno is looking forward to the leadership aspect with his new team, he also wants to play well for the rebuilding Blackhawks. He likely will slot in somewhere on the team's last two lines.
“As much as you want to say off the ice, you got to do on the ice,” he said. “That's what I plan on coming in here to do. It's all great in the room, but you got to be able to do it as well on the ice.”
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl