One of the veterans brought in to assist with that process is Nick Foligno, who's one of the most well-respected players in the NHL. The main reason why he signed with the Blackhawks is to have a more expanded role, but another factor was the chance to reunite with longtime teammate Seth Jones.
"He’s a guy that I really enjoyed playing with in the past and admire him as a person and as a leader and the player that he is," Foligno said on Saturday. "Talking to him, he was really excited that I was trying to come to the team as well. We’ve had a lot of success together. I know how badly he wants to win and compete. When I saw that this was a possibility, I reached out to him right away and I think he was looking forward to it."
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The two of them spent six seasons together with the Columbus Blue Jackets, where they each were part of the leadership group. Foligno was named team captain in 2015 and Jones served as an alternate captain for the majority of his time there.
Whether they have a letter on their jersey or not, the roles will likely be more of the same in Chicago for Foligno and Jones, whose leadership on and off the ice will be invaluable for the younger players going into Year 2 of the rebuild.
"As you know with Seth, he's an ultimate competitor," Foligno said. "I know he wasn’t happy with how things went last year. I think he’s excited about some of the moves that are happening to try and move this forward. We're looking forward to doing that together.
"He's a big piece for their club. He's a guy, when you play for him, you really appreciate him; when you play against him, you realize how fortunate you were to play with him. So really excited about joining up again with him and continuing our relationship."