Before they were teammates on the Wild, youngsters Ryan Donato and Jordan Greenway were roommates at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, last year.
“His feet hung three feet off the bed when we were there,” Donato recalled. “He loved it there. It was good to be there and get to know him.”
After that stint representing the United States, the two went back to being rivals — with Donato returning to Harvard and Greenway going back to Boston University before each turned pro. But that overlap has helped Donato adjust to the Wild after getting traded from the Bruins last week for forward Charlie Coyle, giving him a familiar face to lean on as he adapts to a new team.
“It just helps you relax and go to a couple guys if you have any questions about the team or you’re not too sure what to do,” Donato said. “So I think it makes it definitely a lot easier.”
Donato also knew winger Luke Kunin, as the two played together in the past for the U.S. national program, and they discovered a chemistry on the ice alongside center Joel Eriksson Ek during Donato’s first two games — a debut that included three assists from Donato and six points for the line. And with the team winning both of those contests, a smooth transition for Donato seems to benefit the entire group.
“Having another young guy in the locker room is never a bad thing,” Greenway said. “Brings energy to the team and some youth. Makes the other guys feel younger.”
As an experienced center who can win faceoffs and kill penalties, soon-to-be free agent Eric Fehr could be traded before Monday’s deadline but the 33-year-old is hoping to stick with the Wild.
“I would love to stay,” Fehr said. “I think we’ve got a good thing going here. We’ve been a little bit unlucky, in my opinion. I feel like we’ve been working hard, and things are bound to turn and I think they’re starting to. We have a lot of fun here. When we’re winning, we have even more fun and that’s what we’re expecting down the stretch.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau watched the Blues face off against the Bruins on Saturday to prep for Sunday’s matchup and in doing so, he caught Coyle’s first game with Boston.
“It was strange,” Boudreau said, referring to seeing Coyle skate in a different uniform. “But it is what it is.”
Coyle centered the third line, logging 16 minutes, 36 seconds and scoring in the shootout to help Boston snag a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Blues.
“I actually asked him [Thursday], ‘Do you feel it yet?’ said Glen Giovanucci, one of Coyle’s agents. “He goes, ‘Nah, I still think I’m on Minnesota.’ But I said, ‘You’ll feel it when you walk into the Bruins locker room and you’re putting on different colors. That’s when it’ll occur to you.”
Giovanucci discussed with Coyle the potential he gets moved before the deadline, and Giovanucci figured Coyle would end up on a playoff-bound team — a new chapter for Coyle after a meaningful tenure with the Wild.
“He really loved his time in Minnesota, really loved it,” Giovanucci said, “and I think he’s sad to go. Talking to him, it’s like home to him. He’s a young kid. He came to Minnesota at the same time most kids would start finishing college, first job out of college sort of thing. It’s all he knew, what he loved.”
Seeler sits again
The Wild stuck with the same lineup Sunday that went 2-0 on the road despite Boudreau previously anticipating defenseman Nick Seeler would draw back in against the Blues. But because Boudreau felt none of the other defensemen deserved to sit, Seeler was scratched for a third straight game.
“He’s just got to get back to calming his game down, playing physical like he did last year, but making simple plays,” Boudreau said of Seeler. “ … Sometimes you’ve got to sit a guy down a couple games for him to get back to where he should be.”
Veteran forward Matt Hendricks has healed the upper-body injury he suffered Feb. 12, Boudreau said, but center Victor Rask is still dealing with a lower-body injury he sustained in that same game.
“He skated [Sunday] morning,” Boudreau said. “But it didn’t go as well as planned, so he’s still a way’s away.”