BRIGHTON, MA – Nick Foligno wasn’t about to start using the past tense when talking about the Boston Bruins as the players cleaned out their dressing room stalls at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday afternoon.
The 35-year-old B’s forward wasn’t sugar-coating his dissatisfaction with not dressing for Game 7 last weekend, and he wasn’t about to gloss over the elephant in the room either after his team had blown chances to close things out in Game 5, Game 6 and Game 7 before ultimately losing in overtime to the Florida Panthers, and thereby exiting in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I think we’re extremely disappointed, but we have to look at ourselves honestly in the mirror and realize we didn’t get the job done. That’s the way you move forward. You take it on the chin, you reflect and remember this feeling and you put it toward allowing you to become better from it. It’s been an emotional few days for every guy here given what’s been at stake and what we felt like we had with this group.
“It will take some time to see the bright side of things, if there ever is [a bright side]. It doesn’t take away our group. It’s a results business and we didn’t get the result, and we’re disappointed for ourselves, the work we put in, and the fan base and the excitement that we had created with the run we went on. Not getting it done hurts…we just didn’t execute. Really, look at the difference of our turnovers to their success and then them scoring goals off some of our plays. They made us pay and we didn’t. You go up 3-to-1 in a series and you’ve got to find a way to put the nail in the coffin.”
Foligno said he’ll be intent on continuing to play in the NHL next season after bouncing back for 10 goals and 26 points in 60 games this season to go along with a goal and three points in six playoff games. The veteran forward hopes it’s with the Boston Bruins after spending the last two seasons with the Black and Gold even as he knows that salary cap issues are going to prevent some quality players from coming back to Boston.
Foligno is among a slew of UFAs for the Boston Bruins including Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov, Connor Clifton and notable RFAs as well, so there will be turnover simply because there’s not enough cap space to go around.
“I’m so committed to this group. I can’t think in any other way. I still feel like I’m a big part of this team and I can help this team. The most emotional part too is not knowing what’s going to happen here,” admitted Foligno. “There’s no secret that I love it here, and I’ve bonded with these guys, and we’ve gone through a lot. I felt like I’ve given what I can to this group, and I hope to come back and finish what we started.
“I can’t control what [Don Sweeney], [Cam Neely] and the staff decide, but the feeling is mutual, and we’ve just got to figure out something. I’d prefer to come back, especially with the way things ended and what I foresee for this group. There are still a lot of great players. It’s hard to see because there’s going to be change, but you hope to be a part of it and rectify what went wrong this year.”
Foligno doesn’t figure to come back on the two-year, $7.6 million contract he signed to come to Boston, and perhaps the only way he could return is on the same type of one-year, incentive-filled contract that Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci signed to come back for this season.
Even then that would put the B’s into salary cap problems a couple of seasons down the road, and that may be something they look to avoid even if they readily admit Foligno’s leadership and his selfless, giving personality were part of the excellent vibe permeating Boston’s dressing room during their record 65-win, 135-point regular season.
The best way to keep that going is to find a way to retain Foligno, which could become particularly important from a leadership standpoint if both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci end up moving on from their NHL careers this summer.