Nick Foligno battles on, inspired by baby daughter | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaNick Foligno battles on, inspired by baby daughter

Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 | 08:00 AM

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Nick Foligno of the Blue Jackets reacts to a goal by teammate Ryan Murray, unseen, in a 6-0 victory over the Leafs on Monday. (Abelimages/Getty Images) Nick Foligno of the Blue Jackets reacts to a goal by teammate Ryan Murray, unseen, in a 6-0 victory over the Leafs on Monday. (Abelimages/Getty Images)

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Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno has his focus on a victory in a hospital room in Boston, where his five-week-old daughter Milana appears to be on the mend after major surgery a few weeks ago. She was diagnosed with a rare heart condition the day after she was born.

These days, Nick Foligno has more on his mind than wins and losses on the ice.

The thoughtful Columbus Blue Jackets forward also has his focus on a victory in a hospital room in Boston, where his five-week-old daughter Milana appears to be on the mend after major surgery a few weeks ago. She was diagnosed with a rare heart condition the day after she was born.

"We're hoping in the next little while she may be coming home," Foligno said. "She's made a nice recovery.

"But she has a big appointment with doctors on Tuesday to decide what's best for her in the short term. We have our fingers crossed about that.

"I'm so proud of her - what a little fighter. For sure, it has been great to hear she's doing well.

"Hopefully, things will continue to go well. The good news from Boston has made it easier to be away from her."

The Blue Jackets completed a demanding five-game road trip in Toronto with a dominant 6-0 win over the Maple Leafs on Monday. The swing through Canada began Nov. 17 in Ottawa and made stops in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver last week before Foligno and the Blue Jackets arrived back in Toronto.

Despite concerns with his daughter and wife Janelle, Foligno, a first-time parent, somehow managed to score a goal and four points on the trip.

"This road trip has actually been good for me," the 26-year-old Foligno said. "My wife, obviously, is with our daughter in Boston.

"I think it would be difficult to go home to an empty house right now. It's been good to be around the guys thinking hockey."

This is an important season for Foligno. The son of Mike, a New Jersey Devils assistant coach, and older brother to Marcus of the Buffalo Sabres, saw his production dip last year in the lockout-shortened season to only six goals and 19 points in 45 games.

He worked hard in the off-season and emerged out of the gate with two goals in the first four games of the season. Then, his daughter was born and, all of a sudden, scoring on goalies like of Martin Brodeur, Carey Price and Craig Anderson wasn't so important.

Foligno has missed six games to be with his wife and daughter, but he's still managed to check in with a respectable five goals and 12 points in 18 games.

"It's life," he said. "I think this almost has made me become a better player.

"You realize there is more to life than hockey. She's helped me put that in perspective.

"It's amazing why things happen in your life for a reason. She's definitely one of those reasons.

"I feel that I'm playing the game the way I should be right now. I'm working hard and working for her obviously.

"It's one of those things. You have to deal with what is dealt to you and go from there.

"She's made a more complete person. I just look forward to getting her home."

This isn't the first time Foligno has been burdened with a serious family medical situation away from the rink. His mother Janis passed away after a lengthy battle with breast cancer in July 2009.

Day to remember

Blue Jackets defenceman James Wisniewski was a little fired up in his team's big win on Monday. Strep throat kept him out of the lineup for the Blues Jackets' 6-2 loss in Vancouver last Friday.

So not only was he excited to return to action against Toronto, but he was inspired by the accomplishments of his golfing buddy, professional Jason Day. He won individual honours and led his native Australia to the World Cup of Golf crown at home over the weekend.

"The beautiful thing about it was because I was sick I was camped up in my hotel room on Saturday night and I was praying that, at our hotel, we had the Golf Channel," Wisniewski said. "I didn't see it at first, but after flipping around, there it was.

"I'll tell you what after watching the [2011] Masters and watching that slip away, I was wondering if he likes to put a lot of stress on his wife and friends."

Day finished second at the Masters in 2011 and was the runner-up at the 2011 U.S. Open, too. This time, however, he closed the deal.

Wisniewski, a scratch golfer, knows what it's like to blow a tournament lead. He won the 2012 Muirfield club championship and appeared on his way to a successful defence this past summer. However, he failed to hold his a seven-shot lead entering the final round with a disastrous 92.

"It was my worst round ever," he said. "I've never shot a round that high."

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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