The Dallas Stars are a long way from playoff relevance after four straight years without a postseason trip.

Such a drought was unthinkable when team captain Brenden Morrow was a rookie in 2000 and Dallas was in the middle of a four-year stretch that included 73 playoff games.

Getting back to the playoffs will require the Stars to navigate the NHL's version of a short season — a 48-game schedule trimmed by the 113-day lockout.

The Stars think they upgraded their offense by adding Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney, a pair of 40-year-old forwards who went through the NHL's last 48-game season in 1994-95.

The long-delayed opener is Saturday night at home against Phoenix.