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Despite totaling 95 points, Colorado fell one point shy of reaching the playoffs for the 11th straight season after relocating from Quebec in 1995.
At the urging of general manager Francois Giguere, longtime Colorado captain Joe Sakic made a couple of phone calls at the start of the free agency period to do some recruiting. The Avalanche ended up with two of the bigger names on the market in Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan.
The Avs gave Smyth - a left wing formerly with the New York Islanders, but more well known for his 11-plus seasons with Edmonton - a five-year deal worth more than $31 million. That came after the team signed Hannan, a former San Jose defenseman, for $18 million over four years.
"With the (salary) cap going up so much, you had a lot of teams out there looking at those guys," Giguere said. "To get two was unbelievable. Both Scott and Ryan bring a lot of what we're looking for."
Smyth is an eight-time 20-goal scorer, and needs 30 for 300 in his career. Hannan, 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, is considered one of the league's most physical players.
Sakic will be starting his 19th season, all with the Avalanche franchise, and is also coming up on a milestone. With 1,589 points, he needs two to move past Phil Esposito into eighth place all-time.
On the other end of the ice, Mike Modano will almost certainly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer after his playing career ends. Sometime early this season, he will bolster his impressive credentials even further.
Modano tries to move closer to becoming the all-time leading scorer among American-born players, and the Dallas Stars look to extend a pair of impressive streaks when they meet the Colorado Avalanche in the teams' season opener Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center.
Dallas will be looking for its eighth straight win over Colorado since Oct. 8, 2005. The Stars also own the longest active undefeated streak in season openers, going 7-0-3 since 1996.
Modano begins his 18th season with 507 goals and 719 assists for 1,226 points, leaving him seven shy of passing Phil Housley, the leader among U.S.-born players. The top overall pick by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988, Modano is the franchise's career leader in most offensive categories.
"If anyone deserves the record, it's Mike Modano," said Housley, who played with eight teams during his 21-year career.
On March 17, Modano scored twice in a 3-2 loss to Nashville to pass Hall of Famer Joe Mullen and become the all-time leading American goal scorer. Mullen had 502 goals over 16 seasons.
"The American records are definitely something I am very proud of," Modano told the Stars' official Web site. "It's very special that I've played my entire career with the Stars. Dallas fans have been very good to me and I love living here."
Modano, a Michigan native, has averaged a point per game against the Avalanche, with 25 goals and 29 assists in 54 contests.
Marty Turco, the Stars' career wins leader with 175, will be back in net to begin his seventh season with Dallas. Turco was fourth in the league with a 2.23 goals-against average last season, but the Stars faltered again in the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round for the third consecutive season.
Turco is 9-4-3 with a 2.52 GAA in 19 games against Colorado.
Colorado is 7-2-3 in season openers at home. Dallas is 4-7-8 when opening on the road.