I don’t know about anyone else, but this off-season seemed like it must have set a record for the longest off-season ever. Longer even than any full season lockout. Even earlier this week, it seemed like we were still a long way from seeing any hockey again.

Well, suddenly it’s Labour Day weekend, and hockey is quite literally right around the corner. It’s not regular season hockey, mind you. It’s not even pre-season exhibition games with at least some NHLers.

But on Tuesday Friday, September 6th, right after Labour Day itself, the Leafs have their first Traverse City Rookie Tournament game. They play three games in total with a chance at a fourth “championship” game. Their first game on the Tuesday Friday is against the rookie roster from St Louis, followed by one against Chicago’s youngsters on Wednesday Saturday (at 3:00 pm wtf? [makes more sense now, don’t it?]), and then vs Detroit on the Monday Friday. If they “qualify” for the championship game, they play that on Saturday Tuesday the 10th.

As usual, we’ll talk ourselves into being excited to see some of our still young prospects playing hockey and think it will be just like real hockey is back! Except it will be sloppy and probably a bit boring, but it will at least tide us over with the idea that the pre-season games are soon after.

And they will be! The first pre-season game for the Leafs is one week after the rookie championship game, on Saturday Tuesday the 17th. They’ll play 8 games in total between the 17th and 28th, with two games each vs Ottawa, Buffalo, Montreal and Detroit.

Their first regular season game and home opener will be against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday October 2nd.

So after that eternally long abyss between meaningful hockey games —because let’s face it the only meaningful game after the Leafs lost to Boston was when the Bruins lost game 7 of the Cup Finals and we got to see Marchand cry — NHL hockey is finally in sight.

Recapping our final week of this year’s Top 25 Under 25 rankings:

#6 — Rasmus Sandin

#5 — Alexander Kerfoot

#4 — Kasperi Kapanen

#3 — William Nylander

#2 — (Unsigned)

#1 — Auston Matthews

The NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement Might Get Terminated, Or Maybe Not (Updated with Friday’s announcement from the NHL) | by Fulemin

NHL’s decision to not reopen CBA offers cautious hope for labour peace | by Chris Johnston at Sportsnet, with more analysis on the NHL’s announcement

Zach Hyman is the most important forward for the Leafs next season | by Fulemin’s burner blog account at TLN

Why Sportsnet will look and sound different when the NHL returns this fall | by Sean Fitz-Gerald at The Athletic

Colorado Avalanche ask fans to fight for Altitude Sports Network | by Tom Hunter at MHH, in other hockey broadcast-related news

‘Carriers’ and the ‘carried’ unduly affecting their teams | by Travis Yost at TSN