Nick Foligno doesn't seem phased by the drama surrounding the Artemi Panarin situation.
As any good captain would, he's keeping a level head – which may be having a domino effect on the rest of the team.
It doesn't appear like any Blue Jackets players have had an attitude of needing to bombard Panarin with texts and calls this offseason with pressure to return. Begging has seemed to have no place in this situation.
"The guys have embraced (Panarin), the fans have embraced him," said Foligno in an interview with NHL Network on Monday night. "There's not much we can do; if there's something I thought we were lacking in, then I think we'd be pushing a little harder."
Bottom line, Foligno feels like the Blue Jackets did everything they could last season, aside from winning a Stanley Cup of course, to convince Panarin to stay. And at the end of the day, Folingo knows "it's ultimately (Panarin's) decision" and no one else's.
"He's got the freedom to look elsewhere," Foligno said. "The one thing I guess that makes me feel good about the situation is we've done all we can to make it as comfortable and great of a situation for him here in Columbus."
Foligno believes the Blue Jackets are not only preparing to make the final step to become a Stanley Cup-contending team, but that they are already there, and that this past season's ending was shocking, to say the least.
"It still stings...obviously it was a great learning experience for us," he said. "We felt like we were a team that was destined to do something in those playoffs."
The Blue Jackets, as pointed out by NHL Network's Jamie Hersch, have lost in the playoffs to the eventual champions in consecutive years; while it's no solace, it's also a reminder of the early commanding lead the Blue Jackets had in the series against Washington.
"You're up 2-0 and you think everything is going great," Foligno said. "We didn't get ahead of ourselves, (so) I'm not gonna knock us in that sense, but I don't think we realized how difficult is it to win four games."
Winning that fourth, or even third game, has been a struggle for the Blue Jackets in their history of playoff action, having never won more than two in a series in their four appearances.
"I know the way our team is, the way we're built, our mindset – we're going to learn and become better from it, and I'm excited to see us come into camp this year," Foligno said.
Foligno believes the Blue Jackets are aimed at championship-level success, whether or not Panarin is in the locker room come next April.
"He's got the freedom to look elsewhere...The one thing I guess that makes me feel good about the situation is we've done all we can to make it as comfortable and great of a situation for him here in Columbus."
"I feel like we're a team that's very close. (We're) obviously a better one with (Panarin) on it, but we were a playoff team before," said Foligno. "We're confident in our abilities that we have.
"We'll embrace him come training camp, because he's a great teammate and a guy that can help us. But if not, we get back to business."
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