It all becomes reality now. Today, the Avalanche will depart for Edmonton, leaving in their wake Phase 3 training camp at Pepsi Center and crossing the border up north into Phase 4 territory – the final step in the NHL’s Return to Play plan. In just a matter of days, real-life Avs hockey is set to be played for the first time in 139 long, painstakingly sans-hockey days.
Instead of the usual longjohns and overcoats for a trip to Edmonton, players will be packing shorts and t-shirts for hockey in August. It’s certainly going to be weird, for us and for the players…but, really, mostly for the players. They’ll be quarantined in a one-block-by-one-block square radius of Edmonton’s ICE District, living out of the J.W. Marriott hotel for what could be — what we all hope will be — two months. The next time we see the Avs stateside will be at a parade in Downtown Denver sometime in early October. We can hope anyway.