As Tommy Wingels sat in the dressing room with Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook after practice on Feb. 26, he started to believe he would spend the rest of the season with the Chicago Blackhawks.
"As (the clock) ticks down, you think, 'Okay, maybe I'm not going to get traded,' " Wingels said Sunday morning before his Boston Bruins lost 3-1 to the Hawks at the United Center.
But at the last minute, Hawks general manager Stan Bowman swung a deal and sent Wingels to Boston for a conditional fifth-round pick.
Just like that, Wingels was packing up his things and saying a few quick goodbyes.
"You pick up and leave quickly, but that's the nature of the beast," said Wingels, who played 12:35 on Sunday and did not take a shot.
The Wilmette native, who signed a one-year deal with the Hawks last off-season, has fit in seamlessly with his new team and been used all over the lineup.
Boston is 43-16-8 and firmly in second place in the Atlantic Division. It's a far cry from the disappointing season Wingels went through in Chicago.
"I don't think there's one guy in that room who will tell you that's OK," Wingels said of the Hawks' 30-32-8 record. "A big component of our game is playing for a championship. I think I made it clear that's a big reason why I play.
"So to have this opportunity to come to Boston, it's a very good team that has as good of a chance as anybody in the league. So I'm very happy to be here and I'll try to do what I can to help them."
Wingels couldn't speak highly enough about Hawks management and how much the organization does to make sure players are well prepared and feel welcome at all times.
So, of course, that leads to the obvious question: Would Wingels entertain a return next season?
"My focus right now is the Bruins," said Wingels, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. "I mean, it has to be. It would be a disservice to them and unfair to (think about that).
"Who knows what happens? I live in the moment, so I'm enjoying this right now. I'm having a blast playing with the Bruins, and we'll leave it at that."