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US National Hockey League Opens Regular Season

The National Hockey League opens its 2006-2007 regular season Wednesday with the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes taking on the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto playing Ottawa, and Dallas visiting Colorado.

The Hurricanes will celebrate their 2006 championship by raising the Stanley Cup champion banner to the rafters of Raleigh's RBC Center.

However, this year's team is vastly different from the one that beat the Edmonton Oilers in seven games for the title. Carolina lost several key players in the off-season including goalkeeper Martin Gerber, defenseman Aaron Ward and forwards Doug Weight and Mark Recchi.

Eight teams have new coaches and six clubs have new general managers. Several other NHL stars - including three-time Stanley Cup winner Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings - have retired. Yzerman is now in the Wings' front office.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.