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The Wit and Wisdom of Blackhawks Forward Nick Foligno

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When Chicago Blackhawks forward Nick Foligno holds court, there’s a lot that pours out. It’s not just words, either–there’s plenty he’s trying to say.

He also can’t help but chuckle as to whether he would have followed his own advice when he was a “kid” coming up in the league.

That’s why I laugh at some things and say: ‘Man, when I was that age I was an idiot,” Foligno said while laughing. 

Foligno was acquired with Taylor Hall in June and signed a one-year deal with Chicago, brought in mind to be part of a leadership group that would help the younger kids along. Now with Hall out for the season and Corey Perry away from the team, Foligno remains the lone member of those three instilling the lessons and messages that made him into the leader he is–and helped him experience the success he’s had.

Foligno Learned From The Best

Go look at the teammates Foligno had early on his career–he broke into the league at 20–and it’s some of the best of a generation. There was Daniel Alfredsson, Luke Richardson, and a host of other players who guided the young Foligno through the early parts of his career.

And just like Foligno once was, he’s tasked with teaching those kids the ropes–even though they truly are still kids.

“They’re nineteen,” Foligno said. “At 19, I didn’t know anything either. Was really lucky to come into the room that I came into in Ottawa. I had Mike Fisher around me, Wade Redden, Chris Phillips, Alfie, even Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley–Luke was my teammate. I feel very fortunate having those guys around me.”

He took those lessons with him to Columbus where he was named the captain during the 2014-15 season, the first at that time since Rick Nash was traded during the 2011-12 season.

As his leadership took hold in Columbus, he reflected on the lessons he learned on his way there.

But what stood out most–and what does he try to exemplify most?

Care,”  Foligno said. “I think when you show someone your true heart, then they have to trust you. They have to believe in what you’re telling them.  They have to know what you’re telling them is for a good reason. I think sometimes there’s a lot of people who tell you stuff just for a ‘look at me’ and sometimes you see through that, there’s a little fakeness to it.

Whereas if they really know you care about them, you’re doing this for the right reasons, you’re going to try and soak in everything you can. That’s what I got with those guys. They were as good to me on the ice and as they were off of it.”

And so from those lessons, Foligno looks to teach his new teammates all he learned as a youngster himself.

‘The Game Can’t Consume You’

Now, Foligno knows it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. His words following the Blackhawks 4-2 loss Sunday afternoon speaks to that. That’s why building the relationships with his teammates–what he learned from the likes of the Alfredssons, Richardsons, and Reddens, makes those moments easier to digest.

Richardson talked about how the Blackhawks are trying to build something and Foligno added a few days later how they want to be the Blackhawks again.

So the good, has to be taken with the bad in order to get there.

When those hard conversations had to happen, I knew it was coming from a good place,” Foligno said.  “They were trying to make me a better pro, a better person. And I try to do that with them. If you can instill those little things, you’re going to have a long career and be appreciated as a teammate. I always say one of the best compliments you can get is ‘what a great teammate.’ This is a game where if you trust your teammates, you’re pretty good.”

And while the on-ice performance is important, Foligno understands that’s it’s healthy not allowing the game to be the end all be all.  Foligno respects Bedard’s drive, and knows it’s only going to make him even better than he already is.

But he’s also careful to remind that

“There are days where you need to get away from it,” Foligno said. “The game can’t consume you entirely. You have to more to yourself–more layers, things that excite you away from the game.”

Foligno also knows the pressure that Bedard faces–and an 82-game grind is at a level, Foligno said, that even he’s never faced before.

“You try to teach them that there’s more to life than this game,” Foligno said. “This game is what it is–it’s a game. If you can enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is, the life you can have from it, I think you can come to the rink every day very appreciative of the opportunity to play the game you love.”

So while Foligno once considered himself an “idiot” as a young kid, he’s using his wit and wisdom to make sure the younger Blackhawks take the right steps to become the Blackhawks again.

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