Tommy Wingels is an eloquent, insightful player who can speak at length on just about any topic you throw at him, whether it’s killing penalties, line chemistry, or fighting homophobia in sports. But when asked last week if the trade deadline was on his mind, Wingels cut off the question before it was even finished.

“It’s not,” he said. “No. No.”

Jan Rutta said he wasn’t thinking about the deadline, either. Artem Anisimov hadn’t given it a passing thought. Ryan Hartman wasn’t sweating it. Neither was Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Lance Bouma or anybody else in the Blackhawks’ dressing room.

That’s what they’ve been saying, at least. The reality is, Monday’s 2 p.m. trade deadline has been hovering over the Hawks like a dark cloud for weeks.

“As a coach, you live in fear of the word getting out that one of your players is available because it is a total distraction,” Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. “When the word is out in your locker room that this guy might be moving, or this guy might be moving, it is really difficult to keep the players focused.”

To their credit, the Hawks haven’t let the trade deadline become too much of a distraction. In fact, they’ve been playing their best hockey in weeks lately, winning three of four before a strong, but ultimately futile, effort in Columbus on Saturday night.