As his thumbs nudge the buttons on a controller, Jordan Greenway tracks his avatar. He watches the larger of two flat screens propped on a TV stand in the living room in his three-bedroom, two-story St. Paul apartment.
He’s playing Fortnite, an online video game. When he stops the action, the soundtrack is still serenading the room.
An iPad sitting on the coffee table shows “the best player in the world,” according to Greenway, maneuvering through the game.
“I just watch when I’m bored,” he said. “It’s like a TV show. I just watch other people do what I’m about to do.”
At Greenway’s job — he’s a rookie winger for the Wild — other people watch what he’s about to do.
At home, he spends most of his downtime between practices and games on a constant loop of Xbox, cherry juice and BiteSquad deliveries.
“He doesn’t have too much on his plate,” said forward Luke Kunin, who was recalled from the minors in December and moved in with Greenway. “He’s pretty relaxed, a laid-back kind of guy.”
It’s a different routine for Greenway after attending Boston University the previous three years, but the adjustment has been seamless — a smooth transition helped along by the Wild.
“There’s obviously been a lot of ups and downs,” said Greenway, who is seventh among NHL rookies with nine goals. “But it’s been great.”
A framed photo of Greenway’s sister, Maria, rests on a table just off the kitchen, but that’s one of the few personal touches downstairs.
Greenway moved in during training camp with only the contents of two suitcases. The apartment came fully furnished: neutral walls, gray floors to go along with a gray sofa and love seat — with coordinating pillows — and leather bar stools. One TV was included; adding a second screen was Greenway’s idea.
Andrew Heydt, the Wild’s director of team operations, helped Greenway with housing, and a turnkey setup was important because it eliminated what Heydt calls “the outside noise.”
“I check in with Jordan every day, ‘What’s going on? Any questions?’ ” Heydt said. “Just build that relationship, that comfort level, that he knows he can come to me with anything.”
Requests can include where to buy groceries, a dry-cleaning reference and help shopping for a wardrobe for road trips. By being involved, the Wild can keep tabs on how the person, not just the player, is acclimating.
“We want to know how he’s getting along, how he’s doing, who he’s hanging with, stuff like that,” said coach Bruce Boudreau, who remembered being a 20-year-old rookie in 1975 with the Minnesota Fighting Saints. “When I came to Minnesota for the first time, it was the first time I’d ever lived on my own. I’d been at home my whole life and boy, what a different situation.
“You rely on friends to help you out. I didn’t even know how to open a bank account. So it’s difficult for him, but he’s learning and I think the more he learns, the better he’ll get because he’ll be more prepared on the ice, as well.”
Greenway was living on his own for the first time in his life until the Wild placed Kunin with him.
“We have an older team,” Heydt said. “So most of them have families or structured lives, where these young kids come up and they don’t have that. So it’s really important to get them in a surrounding with fellow teammates that are the same age and they can develop together.”
Greenway leans against the kitchen counter as he digs into a takeout container.
There are dish soap and sponges by the sink, pots on the stovetop and a bottle of vegetable oil on the counter, but the 6-6, 225-pounder rarely cooks.
He’s trying. The crockpot that’s in the cupboard once slow-cooked a pot roast, and Greenway recently whipped up rice and chicken.
“But it’s not good,” he said. “You have to load it up with BBQ sauce.”
The Wild recently introduced him to a nutritionist who will shop with Greenway and help him curate a menu. “It’s all about keeping the younger guys accountable,” Heydt said.
Most of the time, though, Greenway eats from restaurants — either getting food from Good Earth, Red Cow or Kinkaid’s Fish, Chop & Steakhouse delivered, or taking a trip to Downtowner or Pazzaluna.
And when the 21-year-old goes out, he catches a ride with Kunin or requests one on a ride-share app.
He doesn’t have a driver’s license.
“I’m the Uber driver, I guess,” Kunin said.
Greenway felt he’s never needed a car, growing up with a schedule dominated by hockey.
Born and raised in upstate New York, he picked up the sport when he was 3, choosing it over football and lacrosse because it was the one that made him eager to improve.
When the older kids he played with went off to prep school, Greenway decided that’d be his route, too. He left for Shattuck-St. Mary’s in eighth grade and, after three years, he reported to Ann Arbor, Mich., and billeted while skating for two years at the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. His roommate, Jets forward Jack Roslovic, chauffeured the two of them around, and once Greenway started at Boston University after getting drafted 50th overall in the second round by the Wild in 2015, he lived on campus.
“The biggest change is just not hanging out with the guys 24/7,” Greenway said. “I was with one of my teammates 24/7. We ate every meal together.”
Driven to succeed
Inside the stainless-steel refrigerator are four bottles of cherry juice, along with kombucha, beet juice and the yogurt Greenway will down before bed.
In the morning, he’ll mix up a shake before going to Xcel Energy Center.
“There are no bad players,” he said of the NHL. “Everyone’s smart. Everyone’s strong. Everyone’s fast.”
After turning pro in March and skating 11 games with the Wild, including all five in the playoffs, Greenway became a regular this season.
“I didn’t think it was going to be easy at all,” he said. “But I expected to earn my spot.”
Only briefly has that seat in the lineup been taken away from him. He took a two-game detour to the minors at the end of October to rediscover his scoring touch — a demotion that didn’t upset him.
“I wasn’t myself at the beginning of the year,” Greenway said. “I’m pretty realistic with myself, so I trusted that it was the right thing for me, and I think it was.”
Since he returned, he’s been a much more assertive presence on the ice.
Still, sometimes when he comes back to the apartment after games, he’s disappointed. The inconsistencies in his play bother him. It’s tough for him to say he’s comfortable, and he’s not sure how long it’ll take for him to feel like he’s established himself as a bona fide pro.
But deep down, he knows this experience is shaping him for the better.
“I knew there were going to be ups and downs,” Greenway said. “But I think I’ve handled it pretty well.”
Where he belongs
Later in the afternoon, after 4, Greenway is scheduled to play Fortnite with his brother J.D. They’ll chat while battling for hours until Greenway pulls himself away to go to bed.
A similar pattern will follow on the next down day, a stress-free rhythm Greenway likes.
“I don’t really leave this couch,” he said.
Moving to Minneapolis is on his radar, since it’d bring him closer to teammates, but he’d probably have to finally get his driver’s license.
“It’s not really on my priority list right now,” Greenway said.
While much has changed since he joined the Wild and became a full-time NHLer, not everything has. And this is a lifestyle Greenway has enjoyed.
He’s confident this is where he belongs.
“When I’m playing my game,” he said, “I think I definitely deserve to be here.”