It was generally thought the Wolves would have a new captain for the 2011-2012 season, but deep down, many fans were hoping Marcus Foligno would be back for one more year in Sudbury.
Those hopes were pretty well put to an end last week when Marcus signed a three-year entry level contract with the Buffalo Sabres.
That has many looking back and discussing Foligno’s legacy in the Nickel City.
His career in a Wolves uniform was not that much different from his dad, Mike, and brother, Nick. Mike was an offensive player from the start, Nick grew into a point-a-game player, while Marcus developed into the role of a power forward that we all saw in the youngest Foligno even before he played his first game in the OHL.
Leadership qualities were also evident. Both Mike and Marcus wore the captain’s “C” while Nick wore an “A” and probably would have had the “C” at some point if not for a player named Marc Staal.
What really set Marcus apart from most players was his determination. That was most evident this past season. He returned from the Sabres training camp last September with the goal of earning a spot on the World Junior team.
I admit to being a little shocked when it came up in my first interview with him when he returned to the team. I even remember asking myself if he was talking about Canada or the United States. After all he was born in Buffalo and had never really been on the Team Canada radar. But it soon became apparent that he was destined to wear the maple leaf on his chest, which he did with pride and with the support of not only Sudbury, but all of Canada.
The traits that made Marcus Foligno the great player we saw on the ice every night were also there off the ice. In fact, one of his biggest legacies as a member of the Sudbury Wolves just may be what he meant to this community. He never hesitated to get out of the rink and volunteer his time to a wide variety of causes and organizations. Whether it was visits to the hospital, food drives or just getting out to meet fans, Foligno took his community involvement role just as serious as his role as a hockey player. Having seen him on several occasions visit the Children’s Treatment Centre, it was obvious he has a soft spot for kids, and his work to help raise money for the diagnostic equipment fund will never be forgotten.
It hasn’t been an easy couple of years for Marcus. He had to deal with the elation of being drafted into the NHL followed just a few short weeks later by the death of his mother. That would be tough for anyone to handle, but almost unthinkable for a teenager. Luckily for Foligno, he has an amazing family to lean on, and it’s that family that has made him the person he is today.
In the end, when you think about Marcus Foligno, his legacy could simply be his last name and what it means to Sudbury now and for many years to come.
There is no question Marcus has done the Foligno name proud.
Stew Kernan is the radio and television voice of the Sudbury Wolves, and the news director at EZ Rock and Q92. This column appears every other week in Northern Life.