Nick Foligno met with the Boston media for the first time in training camp Friday, and the new Bruins forward proved to be both quick on his feet and with his wit, responding to younger brother Marcus Foligno’s comments earlier in the week.
Marcus, now in his fifth season with the Wild, kiddingly told media members in Minnesota that a recruiting call from Patrice Bergeron must have carried more weight than the same call he made asking his brother to join him on the Wild.
Nick’s response: Right you are, bro.
“Well, Bergy’s got a few more accolades up on the wall,” said a smiling Foligno, 33, who is three years older than Marcus. “Sorry, Marcus, one day you’ll get there.
“Yeah, poor kid. And what a jerk for saying that.”
Brotherly barbs aside, Foligno added that it was a tough decision at this stage of his career not to be in the same dressing room with his flesh and blood. They both played junior hockey with the OHL Sudbury Wolves, but Marcus didn’t join the team until 2007-08, the year after Nick turned pro with the Senators.
“I’ve always made it known that I want to play with my brother,” said Foligno, whose father, Mike Foligno, enjoyed a long NHL career, including many seasons with the Sabres. “But, just the fit here, and the timing, more or less, with what their team [Wild] is going through and where this team is trying to get to right now. It just lined up a little bit better for me.”
It was Day 2 of camp in Brighton, and coach Bruce Cassidy had newcomer Erik Haula centering a line between Jake DeBrusk and Foligno.
Foligno’s versatility up front allows Cassidy the luxury of playing him at center or either wing, which factored into general manager Don Sweeney forking over a two-year deal worth a total $7.6 million for the veteran of 957 NHL games to come here as an unrestricted free agent.
Foligno has never been a prodigious point producer (career high: 73), but his ability and willingness to move around as needed, and play an essential role at any of the three forward spots, made him a valuable asset in his years with Ottawa and Columbus.
The Bruins no doubt will ask him to move around, likely positioning him to be a glue guy across the second and third lines. His stability and perseverance could aid in what the Bruins hope will be the resurgence of DeBrusk’s game.
“I’ve become really comfortable wherever I’m needed to play,” Foligno said. “As you go along in this league, you just realize, wherever you’re going to make the most impact is where you want to play.
“I’ve worked hard at that, to be honest with you, to be reliable wherever they put me. It’s something I take pride in. You have to be able to read and react and think the game, just as well as you can move out there.”
Something that captain Bergeron said to the entire group of 50-plus players in camp resonated with Foligno.
“It’s so true, you’ve got to own your role,” Foligno said. “Whatever you are needed to do is what makes the team successful, and I think that’s why this team has always had success — guys find a role, own it, stick to it, play the way the team needs them to play. I’m just looking to do that.”
Marcus, more of a bottom-six contributor in his years with the Sabres and Wild, will have to wait at least two more seasons for a crack to reunite with his brother. Nick is under Boston’s control for two seasons while Marcus in January signed a three-year extension with the Wild that carries a $3.1 million cap figure.
Meanwhile, his younger brother’s words linger with Nick.
“I’ll have to make a call to Marcus after that,” he said.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.