When Blue Jackets owner John McConnell hired Ken Hitchcock to replace Gerard Gallant as head coach in late November, the least he hoped for was for the team to improve on its .263 winning percentage.
Since then, the Jackets have won six of nine and five in a row. Considering how horrendous that team looked under Gallant, a five-game win streak qualifies as a minor miracle.
The Jackets certainly picked the right portion of the calendar in which to do it. Everyone wants to believe in miracles this time of year. So let's look at a list of what would constitute minor and major miracles for all 30 NHL teams.
Minor Miracle: Brian Burke responds to reporter's question with Â“no comment.Â”
Major Miracle (a.k.a. Alert The Vatican): Burke acquires Todd Bertuzzi at trade deadline, brings Pavel Bure out of retirement for playoff run.
MM: Thrashers go scoreless in two straight games.
ATV: Bob Hartley suspends Andy Sutton for fighting, proclaims undying commitment to Â“European-styleÂ” hockey.
MM: Ray Bourque named team spokesperson.
ATV: Bruins re-acquire Joe Thornton from San Jose, deal him straight-up to Isles for Rick DiPietro.
MM: Martin Biron decides the life of a backup goalie is the one for him, and sticks around for another couple years.
ATV: Jason Pominville leads all NHLers in jerseys sold.
MM: Flames re-acquire Craig Conroy from Kings for future considerations. One of future considerations mandates that Conroy must take vow of silence at least two hours per workday.
ATV: Dion Phaneuf starts referring to himself in the third person.
MM: After Â‘Canes fail to repeat as league champions, ownership reduces ticket prices.
ATV: Mike Commodore's hair, bathrobe no longer subjects of interest at playoff time.
MM: Bill Wirtz starts up Hawks TV network, airing all of team's games. New channel is viewable everywhere but within Illinois state boundaries.
ATV: Â“Standing Room OnlyÂ” sign posted at United Center box office.
MM: Jose Theodore plays three solid games in a row.
ATV: Pierre Turgeon, Tyler Arnason spotted in Avalanche's own zone at same time.
MM: Blue Jackets qualify for post-season. Yes, this post-season.
ATV: Ken Hitchcock brings in Brett Hull as assistant coach.
MM: Eric Lindros plays entire 82-game schedule.
ATV: Norm Green purchases franchise, moves it back to Minnesota to compete with Wild.
MM: Wings lure Bob Probert out of retirement.
ATV: Probert doesn't get a second of ice time; simply sits at end of bench and leers at opposition.
MM: Soon-to-be unrestricted free agents Petr Sykora and Ryan Smyth both stay Oilers after this season.
ATV: Chris Pronger fan club opens outlet store in West Edmonton Mall.
MM: Office Depot Centre breaks attendance record after team unveils new Â“Half-price tickets for illegal Cuban refugeesÂ” campaign.
ATV: Ed Belfour teaches Alex Auld how to walk (not slip) on water.
MM: It's already happened, and continues happening every minute Eilsha Cuthbert remains with Sean Avery.
ATV: Dan Cloutier breaks Brian Boucher's shutout record, prompting Marc Crawford to shave his head in tribute.
MM: Derek Boogaard meets an opponent's orbital bone he finally likes.
ATV: Mikko Koivu scores even-strength goal.
MM: Janne Niinimaa overtakes Sheldon Souray, Andrei Markov for top minutes by a Canadiens defenseman.
ATV: Mike Johnson, Radek Bonk get into fistfight while debating which one is least aggressive player in NHL.
MM: Barry Trotz goes berserk during game and is fined $100,000 by league for what will come to be known as Â“The McGeough IncidentÂ”.
ATV: Predators' mustard-yellow third jersey worn by Snoop Dogg in video, becomes must-have fashion item for the kids.
MM: Scott Gomez forgoes free agency, re-signs for $4 million a year less than he could've scored on open market.
ATV: Robbie Ftorek returns for second stint as coach.
MM: Neil Smith hired as consultant to Garth Snow.
ATV: Alexei Yashin wins Mark Messier Leadership Award.
MM: Brian Leetch overcomes hate-on for Glen Sather, signs with Blueshirts for final playoff run of storied career.
ATV: Tom Renney steps down after five-game losing streak. Sather replaces him with Isiah Thomas.
MM: Wade Redden stays healthy, plays like he did when Zdeno Chara was around.
ATV: John Muckler fires Bryan Murray, acquires Ted Nolan from Islanders and Dominik Hasek from Red Wings.
MM: Peter Forsberg discovers magical ankle support, agrees to three-year contract extension.
ATV: Petr Nedved claimed on waivers.
MM: Jeremy Roenick claims he was misquoted on every quote ever attributed to him, promises to reveal real opinions in new autobiography If I Said It.
ATV: Ladislav Nagy turns in Selke-worthy performance in second-half of season.
MM: Isle of Capri arena deal comes through.
ATV: Rick Tocchet hired to oversee project.
MM: Joe Pavelski comes out of nowhere to beat fellow Sharks rookie Matt Carle for third place in Calder Trophy voting.
ATV: Wanting Â“veteran leadershipÂ”, Doug Wilson acquires Owen Nolan for Cup run.
MM: Bill Guerin agrees to waive no-trade clause in contract.
ATV: League's other 29 GMs lobby successfully to have Guerin's no-trade clause reinstated.
MM: Entire season passes without one story about Martin St-Louis' size.
ATV: John Tortorella resigns as coach, becomes suicide counselor.
MM: Matt Stajan, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky manage not to disappear from games for weeks on end.
ATV: All the upper-crusters in the lower bowl of the Air Canada Centre make it back to their seats before the start of the second and third periods.
MM: Henrik and Daniel Sedin play on separate lines.
ATV: Steve Moore kicks off comeback bid by signing with Canucks.
MM: Glen Hanlon puts Donald Brashear on a line with Alex Ovechkin. Brashear scores seven goals in three games, then announces his retirement as a fighter, but not a player.
ATV: Ovechkin graduates summa cum laude from Joe Sakic ClichÃ© Academy.
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