Marcus Foligno never made it to the playoffs in six seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. So when he was traded to the Wild last month, the rugged 6-3 winger immediately relished the chance to play for a winning team. Foligno was in the Twin Cities over the weekend to check out his new arena and to look for a home. He chatted with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand:
Q: OK, so I have to ask about the “Foligno Leap,” your goal celebration. What is it in the first place?
A: Yeah, it’s something my dad [Mike] developed when he was playing [in the NHL]. I’ve talked to him about it and why he did it. He’s a really passionate guy, and he didn’t know how to celebrate a goal any other way besides jumping in the air and leaping for joy. Putting the puck in the back of the net was a great feeling for him. … But I think now the only time you’ll see it from me is if it’s a big overtime goal. But you never know. We have those genetics and I might leap in the air.
Q: Your dad played in Buffalo for quite a while and obviously you did, too. Given that strong connection, is it strange to be traded and suddenly be playing for another team?
A: It was definitely weird leaving Buffalo, and it was one of those things where everyone wants to be a franchise player and play for one team their whole life. That’s something special. But it’s always reality, and I’m obviously really excited about the opportunity here in Minnesota. I think it’s a great team, and I think I can accomplish more now with Minnesota than Buffalo after the tough years we went through there. You have to look at this as a positive. This is a team that really wanted me.
Q: You grew up in a hockey-playing family with not just your dad in the league but your older brother [Nick] playing in the NHL for Columbus. What was that upbringing like?
A: It’s been pretty great, honestly, with my dad’s career and being in a family like that. At the end of the day, my dad never pushed us to play hockey or anything like that, but he made sure we had the tools and the motivation to get there. I think it all started when Nick was going through it. … The hockey world has done so much for our family, and it’s great to be a hockey family.
Q: Your NHL debut six years ago was against your brother’s team. What do you remember from that moment?
A: The phone call was pretty exciting, to be able to call him and tell him I’d be playing against him. We had 45 or 50 people at the game, and luckily Nick paid for the box because I wasn’t making as much money as he was at that point. It was great to have everyone there, and not everybody gets to do that. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Q: What did you know about the Wild from the outside looking in before you got here — both in terms of what they already do well and how you might help?
A: I think being a big winger, someone who can forecheck well for the skilled guys around him, is something this team needed, and I’m happy to provide that. Sticking up for teammates, being a team guy, and just adding to this room. I just want to be a positive addition to the dressing room, chip in offensively, take pride in defensive zone coverage. Just adding another hard worker to this team is going to help, and I think I can provide that.