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Original Issue

3 Colorado Avalanche

One morning in training camp Avalanche right wing Adam Deadmarsh
was marveling at his improved shooting. The previous day, in a
variation of the old Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist
and a fight), he had collected what his coach, Bob Hartley,
called "a Happy Gilmore hat trick." In an evening intrasquad
game Deadmarsh picked up a goal and an assist; only hours
earlier he had struck the shot heard 'round Colorado's training
camp, smacking an eight-iron into the cup for a hole in one on
the par-3, 165-yard 8th hole at Colorado Springs's Broadmoor
Golf Course. "First time I've been within 10 feet [of an ace],"
said Deadmarsh. "Maybe I'll get on a roll."

After a breakout year in 1996-97, when he scored 33 goals,
Deadmarsh slumped to 22 goals in each of the last two seasons,
which makes him the prototypical Avalanche player: a top-notch
talent who hasn't always performed up to his potential. Since
the 1992-93 season, only Detroit and Pittsburgh have more points
than Colorado, yet the Avalanche has won just four playoff
series during that span if you exclude its 1995-96 Stanley
Cup-winning campaign. Colorado will begin this year without
three of the five All-Star forwards who took it to last season's
Western Conference finals, in which the Avalanche fell to Dallas
in seven games. Gone are Theo Fleury and Valeri Kamensky, both
of whom signed free-agent contracts with the Rangers. Moreover,
Peter Forsberg, the NHL's most complete player, is recovering
slowly from June surgery on his left shoulder and is not
expected back until December.

Hartley hopes that some of the gusto with which Forsberg plays
will rub off on stylish but soft defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, who
will kill penalties for the first time in his career. Ozolinsh's
poor play in his own zone--he was -5 in the postseason--was a
big reason goalie Patrick Roy faced 30 or more shots in 15 of 19
playoff games last spring. Though the Avalanche will not abandon
its high-speed game, Hartley is determined to put a tougher,
grittier group in front of Roy, who is just 35 wins shy of Terry
Sawchuk's alltime mark of 447. Smallish forwards Chris Drury and
Milan Hejduk, who were first and third, respectively, in the
Calder Trophy balloting last year, went on off-season strength
programs and could become, in Hartley's words, "the go-to two"
if they add a physical dimension to their games. "In the past we
fell back on our skill," says Colorado captain Joe Sakic, who
led the team with 41 goals. "Now to stay up with Dallas and
Detroit, we have to do the little things to win." --Brian


1998-99 Calder Trophy winner Chris Drury had just 44 points,
the lowest total for a rookie of the year since 1966-67, when
Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr had 41.



OFFENSE 5 Strong despite losing Fleury and Kamensky
DEFENSE 9 Critical that Miller and Foote take another
step up
GOALTENDING 9 Roy must regain form; backup Denis is a comer
SPECIAL TEAMS 7 Yelle and Deadmarsh terrorize opposing power
COACHING 22 Hartley will be tested early with Forsberg