ST. PAUL -- Jordan Greenway has been walking around the Wild locker room with a little extra swagger the past few weeks, and it doesn’t have anything to do with his play on the ice.
He puffs his chest out a bit more as he peels of his equipment, and isn’t afraid to chirp at anyone within shouting distance.
As the man currently in first place in the Wild’s high-stakes fantasy football league, Greenway knows he has a reputation to uphold, and he’s leaned all the way in.
“I love coming in here and just giving everyone (expletive),” he said. “I’m at the top right now, so I’ve got to do that. I lost last week, though, so maybe karma is giving it to me. I’ve got to quiet it down a little bit.”
Still, it’s been hard for anyone to chirp back at Greenway with the 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward still sitting atop the standings entering this week’s slate of games. He has a solid team led by Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook and is probably the favorite to win it all.
Not that anyone would admit that. In a long-standing league been built on trash talk, admitting defeat at this point pretty much defeats the purpose.
“It’s always good to have some chirps back and forth,” said defenseman Jared Spurgeon, the defending league champion who somehow currently finds himself in last place this fall. “It gets pretty intense in here.”
Need proof? Asked about the league, goaltender Devan Dubnyk made sure to bring up the fact that Spurgeon is in last place.
“Let’s just say he will not be defending his title this year,” Dubnyk said. “That team is awful.”
Logistically speaking, it’s a 10-team league on the Yahoo platform that has been around for as long as anyone can remember. Veteran forward Zach Parise serves as league commissioner, according to Marcus Foligno, and Dubnyk has hosted the draft at his house the past couple of years.
“I think the coolest part is pretty much everyone is involved,” backup goalie Alex Stalock said. “We have two-person teams and three-person teams and stuff like that. It’s nice because anybody can do it. You really don’t have to know much.”
You do have to know how to trash talk, though, even if it’s not always rooted in truth.
Foligno recently talked about the lack of performance of Dubnyk’s team, hammering home the fact that his team is in last place.
“He’s having a rough go,” Foligno said. “His team is absolutely embarrassing.”
Maybe Foligno was just trying to get a rise out of Dubnyk because a quick look at the league standings shows that isn’t true.
“What the (expletive) is he talking about?” Dubnyk said. “I’m tied for second place right now.”
While it’s clear how vicious the trash talk gets, nobody is better at that part of the game than defenseman Matt Dumba. He has the reputation as the biggest trash talker on the team, rivaled only by video coach Jonas Plumb.
Asked about that, Dumba deflected, trying his best to change the narrative.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I do know that it’s near impossible to make a trade with Zach Parise and Jonas Plumb. They won’t budge, man. I pestered them for five straight weeks, though, and eventually got what I wanted.”
That lends itself to another thing Dumba is known for in the league.
“He’s a snake with the trades, man,” Foligno said. “He’s just always trying to get guys to bite.”
Not surprisingly, Dumba downplayed that part, too.
“I’m a snake?” Dumba asked rhetorically. “No way. I’m just an aggressive GM.”
“You have, like, zero drafted players on your team right now,” locker mate Ryan Hartman chimed in. “It’s ridiculous.”
“Oh,” Dumba said to himself. “Maybe I am a little bit of a snake.”
In all seriousness, though, Dumba said the league itself is great for camaraderie. As much as it’s about winning, it’s just as much about keeping everyone talking no matter what’s going on. And that’s especially important with the team’s record at 4-9-1 this season.
“It’s just funny all the (BS) that it gets cooking up in here,” Dumba said. “As soon as fantasy football is over, there’s like a week-long adjustment period where we don’t know how to talk to each other.”
Most Wild players agree that Sunday is their favorite day of the week, rivaled only by Monday and Tuesday when everyone gets to chirp each other about Sunday’s results.
“It’s an absolute blast,” Foligno said. “I never used to watch the NFL and now the wife will be like like, ‘Oh, no. It’s Sunday again.’ ”