Nick Foligno said he hopes to debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, NHL.TV).
The forward was a guest on the 13th episode of “The Chirp with Daren Millard” podcast, available now on NHL.com and multiple iOS and Android podcast apps. He was traded to the Maple Leafs on April 11 in a three-team deal involving the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks and was required to quarantine for at least seven days due to COVID-19 protocols after arriving in Toronto because he crossed the United States-Canada border.
If Foligno plays Thursday, he’ll play against former Blue Jackets teammate Pierre-Luc Dubois, who was traded to the Jets on Jan. 23.
“We’ll face off against each other for the first time, so the familiar face across the way,” Foligno said. “It will be nice to probably have a practice but I rather … let’s go. I’m here to play for them and get this thing going, so I probably prefer to jump right into the door.”
Foligno has spent the time at his summer house in Sudbury, Ontario. He’s a neighbor of his father, Mike Foligno, a former NHL forward who played 129 games for the Maple Leafs in four seasons from 1990-94 and was part of the run to the 1993 Campbell Conference Final, a seven-game loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
“The first day, you put your feet up, you’re relaxing and there’s no kids running around,” Nick Foligno said. “Day Two, it starts to get at you, starts to eat at you. I’m trying to do it right and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize my chance of playing or team’s chances of success they’re having right now.”
The Maple Leafs (28-12-5) are first in the seven-team Scotia North Division, four points ahead of the second-place Jets. The top four teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“They’re fun to watch,” Foligno said of the Maple Leafs. “I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like to play. The plays that they make, you marvel at, especially coming from a team where it was a struggle for us this year a little bit. To see them at will kind of just make these plays and the confidence in which they play, I’m excited to join that. I’m excited to learn from these guys. There’s some older guys that I haven’t really had around me in a while in Columbus. We’ve been a young team for a long time, so there’s just so many reasons Toronto feels like the right fit.”
Foligno was captain of the Blue Jackets since May 20, 2015. The 33-year-old has scored 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 42 games this season and 482 points (203 goals, 279 assists) in 950 regular-season games for Columbus and the Ottawa Senators. He can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
“Being a veteran guy, I know what it’s like to be a new guy, and I know what I expect from you guys are telling you guys when they come to my team,” Foligno said. “So now I need to heed the advice that I would give myself or somebody else and give it to myself. That’s what I’m excited about. It’s not changing who I am. This isn’t, I don’t have to run the show, I don’t have to pull everyone together. I’m just going to do that by my work ethic and by how I play.”
“The Chirp with Daren Millard” features interviews with players, executives, alumni and other personalities around the game. You can share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #ChirpMallard.