Paul Sullivan: It’s going to be a tough 7 months for fans before the Chicago Bears preseason opener

The end of the Chicago Bears season typically brings a feeling of melancholy to fans who depend on the team for their weekly entertainment, for better or (usually) worse.

Unfortunately, there’s no technology available to deal with the affliction, like light therapy lamps or other newfangled devices invented to help fight off seasonal affective disorder.

The NFL playoffs can provide a bit of relief, but the passion is nontransferable. Even if you’ve chosen to jump on the bandwagon of the Detroit Lions or some other team, it doesn’t really matter whether they win or lose.

So for the next seven months, until the preseason schedule begins in early August, Chicagoans must learn to cope with the post-Bears blues. They can still debate Justin Fields’ future and what to do with the No. 1 pick for a few months until the draft, but otherwise it figures to be a long, hard slog until the 2024 season, thanks to the abysmal state of the Chicago sports scene.

Here’s what we have to look forward to in Chicago until the return of the Bears:

Star-free Blackhawks

The season unofficially was put on hold one week ago when Connor Bedard’s jaw was broken by a hit from Brendan Smith during a 4-2 loss in New Jersey on Jan. 5. The 18-year-old rookie was not only the Hawks’ best player and top drawing card, it could be argued he was the only reason to watch them at all during the first half of another rebuilding season.

The Hawks, who had the league’s second-lowest point total (26) as of Wednesday, announced Bedard underwent successful surgery to repair his jaw and would be out of the lineup for approximately 6-8 weeks. Few rookies have been asked to carry an entire franchise on their backs the way Bedard has, both on the ice and as a marketing tool. The United Center has mostly been filled with fans wanting to see the kid play, taking some of the sting out of a lackluster season.

If Bedard returns by March 2, the Hawks will have 10 home games left to salvage what could have been a record-setting rookie season. Until then, no one can be blamed for tuning out the Hawks.

Nonstop Bulls drama

The Ring of Honor ceremony Friday night at the United Center could be the highlight of the season, at least if everyone invited shows up.

The Bulls once again are a sub-.500 team fighting for a play-in spot for the second straight season, with an 18-21 record after Wednesday’s overtime win over the Houston Rockets. It looks like a repeat of last season, albeit with more drama.

The Bulls have played better since Coby White replaced Zach LaVine as one of the go-to scorers, but now that LaVine has returned from the injured list and is gradually getting his legs back, it’s only a matter of time before he’s back to taking 18-20 shots per night.

How will the Bulls adjust when LaVine is once again the focus of the offense?

The Feb. 8 trade deadline could be the end of the LaVine era in Chicago, or it could be a continuation of an awkward relationship that neither side seems interested in continuing.

The Bulls never lack for drama, though at this point it’s getting old.

Cubs being Cubs

Almost two months after changing managers, the Cubs finally made a meaningful roster addition with the reported signing of 30-year-old Japanese left-hander Shōta Imanaga.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but president Jed Hoyer’s meticulous approach to roster construction has tested the patience of most Cubs fans, who expected more when Craig Counsell was brought on.

Will they or won’t they sign Cody Bellinger? And even if they do, will it still be enough to put the Cubs in playoff contention by the time the Bears start back up?

One way or another, Counsell will have a lineup card ready to hand out when the Cactus League season begins Feb. 23 against the White Sox. The only certainty is that Wrigley Field will be a drawing card on hot summer days, whether Hoyer gets it right this winter or not.

It has always been the Cubs’ security blanket.

Vanishing White Sox fans

The biggest difference between the Blackhawks and the White Sox is Hawks fans will come out to watch an awful team if they have someone like Bedard to focus on. The Sox have no such player on the current roster, and the minimal spending this offseason by general manager Chris Getz suggests they don’t intend to obtain one any time soon.

Top prospect Colson Montgomery is considered the next big thing, but the Sox don’t want to rush the shortstop, even on a rebuilding team that could use a gate attraction. Luis Robert Jr. is a superstar in the making, but he’s not good enough yet to convince Sox fans to buy tickets just to watch him play on a losing team.

In short, it could be a lonely season in the bleachers at Sox Park, which at least would make it more difficult to get hit by a wayward bullet. By August the Sox could be playing out the string and Pedro Grifol could be on the hot seat.

But by then we’ll already be looking forward to a new Bears season, and the angst starts all over again.

Can hardly wait.