The Colorado Avalanche usher in a new era Wednesday, when they host the Anaheim Ducks in the 2013-14 season opener for both teams. After finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference last campaign, Colorado fired coach Joe Sacco and replaced him with legendary Hall-of-Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, who also was named vice president of hockey operations. Roy guided the Avalanche to a pair of Stanley Cup championships as a player and hopes to do the same from behind the bench, where he'll watch Nathan MacKinnon make his NHL debut.
Colorado won the draft lottery and used the first overall pick to select the 18-year-old MacKinnon, who registered 75 points in 44 games with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. Anaheim captured the Pacific Division title in impressive fashion last season but was knocked off in the first round of the playoffs by Detroit. General manager Bob Murray shook things up a bit - and relieved the team of $10.2 million - over the summer by trading star Bobby Ryan to Ottawa for Jacob Silfverberg, who begins the Ducks' 20th season in the NHL on the sideline with a lower-body injury.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, Prime Ticket (Anaheim), Altitude (Colorado)
ABOUT THE DUCKS (2012-13: 30-12-6, 2nd West): Also out for the season opener are Sheldon Souray (wrist) and Luca Sbisa (ankle), but fellow defenseman Francois Beauchemin is likely to play following offseason knee surgery. Dustin Penner, a member of Anaheim's Stanley Cup championship team in 2007, is back with the club after tenures with Edmonton and Los Angeles. The 43-year-old Teemu Selanne, who is the oldest player in Ducks history, returns for his 22nd - and final - season in the NHL.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (2012-13: 16-25-7, 15th West): MacKinnon, who was just the third 17-year-old in the last 26 drafts to be chosen first overall, admits to having butterflies in regard to playing in his first NHL game. "I'm usually a pretty calm guy, but you never know, it's the first game," he said. "I will be (nervous), but after the game gets going, I'll start to settle down." The Avalanche have several players from their championship years running the club in Roy, executive VP of hockey operations Joe Sakic and defense development consultant Adam Foote.
1. Alex Tanguay is back for his second stint with Colorado. The 33-year-old began his career with the Avalanche in 1999-2000 and was teammates with Roy, Sakic and Foote on the 2003 Cup-winning team.
2. Ducks C Andrew Cogliano owns the league's third-longest current games played streak, appearing in 458 straight contests since making his NHL debut with Edmonton on Oct. 4, 2007.
3. Roy's only coaching experience came in the QMJHL, where he guided the Quebec Remparts to the Memorial Cup in 2006.
PREDICTION: Ducks 4, Avalanche 1