Does anyone else feel like this is the strangest and longest offseason ever despite the fact that it on;y just started? We’re getting the mid-July lull in October and it’s really starting to mess with my head.

The snow has started falling in Edmonton over the last couple of days and the change in season really got me thinking about how strange this whole year has been. Rather than starting off the 2020-21 season as we normally would, with a party or some other type of charity event, we’re stuck in the middle of an offseason with no concrete idea of when we’ll actually get going again. Sure, we’ve heard some initial ideas and rumblings about what the upcoming 2021 campaign might look like, but there hasn’t exactly been much movement in the time since, at least not publically. Instead, we’re back to the land of hypotheticals where we all take guesses on what’s to come without knowing if we’re even in the ballpark. To me, this gap between seasons almost feels like the same way as it did when the Coronavirus pause first happened back in March.

It’s weird to be in the back-half of October without the start of the NHL season here to distract us from the coming months of frozen darkness. It’s weird to be heading into an Edmonton winter without having Connor McDavid’s magic on display every other night to keep us all warm on these brisk fall nights. It’s weird to be living in a time of continuous uncertainty without an end in sight, and not knowing if we’ll have something like an NHL season to look forward to. At least the last time the league was away from our TVs, we had the promise of spring and summer to look forward to, but this year’s offseason has an air of uncertainty hanging overhead and that’s already making the break feel longer than normal.

Before the league resumed back in late-July, there were a lot of words written on this website about if the NHL was going to be able to get back on the ice to finish of the season and despite it being unlikely, the league and players joined together to compromise and work out a plan that could make it happen. Then, only a few short months later, we’re back in the exact same position with an entire season hanging in the balance. For us here at the Nation, that means walking blindly into the darkness and trying to create content around a team that we don’t even know when we’ll be able to watch again. It’s not easy at the best of times to make sure new articles go up every day, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. Even though we know that both sides are working on a way to get back on the ice, the uncertainty about whether or not that will happen or when we’ll be able to watch hockey again has really been exhausting.

I don’t know about you folks, but having hockey back in the summer was a short dose of normalcy that I desperately needed and was grateful to have, and it was a lot of fun to be able to argue about real sports again rather than batting around hypothetical offseason scenarios. There’s no doubt that the Oilers were terrible in their abbreviated playoff run, but we were all in it together and that’s what made those losses tolerable. Now, after putting in four months of offseason work already spent earlier in the year, we’re back in the quiet zone for NHL news and that’s making the wait feel even longer. Going months without hockey each summer is one thing, but having to repeat the process twice in a single calendar year has been tough to navigate. And not knowing how long this is going to go on for is another challenge altogether. Will we get through it? Of course. Will it be easy. No, it will not.

Listen, I’m not nearly smart enough to figure out what comes next or when we’ll have a life that looks anywhere close to normal, but we’re reaching a point where this hellish year is putting me at my witts end. No, I don’t think having the NHL back will do all that much to change what has certainly been a tough stretch for all of us, but I do think hockey would provide a much-needed distraction at a time when we can sorely use it and that’s what I’m hoping to see. Even as I write this now, I don’t really know what the point of this is other than to express my frustrations to an audience of Internet strangers in the hopes that I’m not the only one that’s getting tired — maybe I just needed to vent a little bit. All I know for sure is that I would much rather be writing Wrap Ups and arguing about the powerplay than rambling rants about the emotional impacts of Coronavirus, and I truly, sincerely hope that we can get back to that sooner than later.

No matter what happens, just know that I truly appreciate everyone reading this and vow to keep coming up with content until the NHL can safely get back on the ice. As Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part…