Sakic helped lure Smyth, Hannan to sign with Avs

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche general manager Francois
Giguere asked his top salesman to do some cold calling.

Two phone calls later, Avalanche captain Joe Sakic convinced
left winger Ryan Smyth and defenseman Scott Hannan to join the

Hannan agreed to a four-year, $18 million contract Sunday. A few
hours later, Smyth signed a five-year deal worth $31.25 million.

Both credited calls from Sakic for persuading them to play for
Colorado. Sakic should be in line for commission checks.

"You could hear it [the confidence] in Joe's voice. To have
that sold me in a lot of ways," said Smyth, who joined Hannan on
Monday for an introductory news conference. "He's well respected,
a future Hall of Famer, a guy who will do whatever it takes for the
team to win."

Including placing phone calls on Sunday, the first day of the
free-agency period.

"We made sure he was available," Giguere said. "I said,
'You're the best ambassador I have.' If he talks to them and shows
how much he believes in the team, it has to help."

It didn't take much selling.

Colorado missed the playoffs in 2007 for the first time in 11
seasons in Denver. However, the Avalanche were one of the hottest
teams down the stretch, going 15-2-2 over their final 19 games and
narrowly missing a playoff spot.

Hannan said the Avalanche's dedication to winning was one of the
reasons he signed. That and hearing from Sakic. Both Hannan and
Smyth have grown to admire Sakic by playing with him on Team

"Anytime you get a chance to play with a leader of his ability,
it's great. He's such a great guy," said Hannan, who's played his
eight NHL seasons with San Jose. "He's a great salesman."

Giguere couldn't have imagined signing both Hannan and Smyth.
There was even a point when he thought he'd lost out on both after
not hearing back from either for a while.

"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

Giguere is fulfilling a promise he made to Sakic in April when
the captain signed a one-year deal. Giguere said he'd do everything
in his power to return Colorado to its winning ways.

"Joe sent the message he believed in this team," Giguere said
of Sakic's signing. "What these guys are saying by signing here is
they believe."

Smyth weighed his options carefully before deciding on Colorado.
Smyth is fully aware of the sacrifices the New York Islanders made
last season when they acquired him in February from the Edmonton
Oilers. The Islanders surrendered two former first-round picks and
this year's No. 1 selection to get him just before the trading
deadline. It was a hefty fee as the Islanders were eliminated from
the playoffs by Buffalo in the first round.

"They gave us every opportunity to want to come back there,"
said Smyth, known as "Captain Canada" for his experience on the
national teams. "They [the Islanders] were right there at the
bitter end. I hope nothing but the best for them. They have a
bright future."

Giguere said after signing Hannan and Smyth, the team is going
to sit back and let the market settle down.

"We're at a point where we're looking at complement players
rather than impact players for our team," he said.

Yet Giguere feels like the team basically added another key
component in Jordan Leopold, who missed most of the season with an
assortment of injuries, including a broken wrist that sidelined him
for Colorado's final 25 games. He could be a solid pairing with
Hannan on defense.

"I see Jordan as a total new player that we're adding to our
team," Giguere said.

Giguere is leery of adding too many new pieces to the team.

"We have great chemistry and I don't want to do too many
changes," he said.

Hannan, 28, is an aggressive, hard-hitting defenseman cut from
the same mold as former Colorado player Adam Foote.

"That's a great comparison," Hannan said. "I'd like to be
named in the same breath as Adam. I see myself being that type of
player. I hope to bring that to the Avalanche."

Smyth, 31, is coming off a season in which he scored 36 goals
for the Islanders and Oilers. He's looking forward to playing on
the same line as Sakic.

When asked if Smyth would wear the captain's "C" on his
sweater once Sakic retired, Smyth just grinned.

"Joe's going to be playing a little bit longer than everybody
thinks," Smyth said. "I'll be pressuring him every single year.
That guy, the way he played last year, he's got another 10 years