Mike Foligno was a hard-nosed right-winger with a heavy shot and an above average scoring touch. He played 1,018 regular season games for four different teams and was considered a positive influence on team chemistry wherever he played.
The native of Sudbury, Ontario excelled for the home town Wolves of the OHA where he served as team captain. In 1978-79 he led the league with 150 points and was named to the OHA first all-star team. That summer he was chosen third overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the newly-named NHL Entry Draft.
The enthusiastic youngster scored 36 goals in 1979-80 and finished runner-up to Ray Bourque in the Calder trophy voting. His played slipped a bit in 1980-81 but he still managed 28 goals then suited up for Canada at the World Championships. Two months into the next season he and teammates Dale McCourt and Brent Peterson were sent to the Buffalo Sabres for Danny Gare, Jim Schoenfeld, and Derek Smith.
Foligno spent the prime of his career with the Sabres where he added a strong defensive game to his offensive prowess under coach Scotty Bowman. During his decade of service in Western New York, he scored at least 20 goals eight times, including a personal-best 41 in 1985-86. The only thing missing during this period was post-season success as the best the Sabres could do was come within an overtime goal of the semi-finals in 1983. During this time Foligno also played for Canada at the World Championships where he won a bronze medal in 1986 and finished fourth the next year.
By the 1988-89 season the Sabres used Foligno in a more grinding defensive role. The emergence of young players like Pierre Turgeon and the acquisition of veteran Rick Vaive reduced Foligno's offensive role and power play time. Halfway through the 1990-91 season he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He injured his knee in his first game with the Blue and White but returned to suit up in 37 games that year.
In 1991-92 Foligno formed a useful "lunch bucket" line with Craig Berube and Mike Krushelnyski until suffering a badly broken leg just before Christmas. He worked diligently during his rehabilitation and was given some slack by new Toronto coach Pat Burns at training camp in 1992. His zest for life and the game put him in good stead with his employers and peers. Foligno scored 13 goals and played a solid checking role on the disciplined Maple Leafs. He was also an inspirational leader and scored a key overtime goal during game five of the first round playoff victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Foligno helped the Leafs come within one game of reaching the Stanley Cup finals before they succumbed to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings.
Foligno started the 1993-94 season in Toronto but dressed for only four games. He was traded to the Florida Panthers a month into the season and played 39 games for the expansion club before retiring at the end of the year. He immediately declared that his first year away from the game would be spent entirely with his family. In 1995-96 he was hired by the Maple Leafs as an assistant to St. John's coach Tom Watt. Before the end of the season he found himself back at the Gardens as an assistant to Nick Beverley after the firing of Pat Burns.
In 1997-98, Foligno was hird by the Colorado Avalanche as an assistant before becoming the head coach of the team's AHL affiliate in Hershey for the next five years. Following his stay in Hershey, Foligno returned to his roots and became head coach of Sudbury Wolves in the summer of 2003.