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TheStreet Open House

The NHL's Winter Classic Needs Supersizing

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- We're just going to repeat ourselves in case the message didn't get through: The Winter Classic is the best idea the National Hockey League has had in a decade.

But it could be better.

I generally subsist on a television diet of Hulu and Netfllix (NFLX) offerings, with the occasional Amazon.com (AMZN) Instant Video program thrown in when I've signed up for a Prime trial.

I'm not a fan of cable. It doesn't like me, and we've reached a nice little mutual understanding about the whole thing. For the Winter Classic, however, I put the digital antenna to work and took in the whole spectacle on the local NBC affiliate.

This was the NHL in its ideal form and, as one Twitter (TWTR) follower described it, the NHL's Super Bowl.

Nearly 105,500 fans showed up to the University of Michigan's "Big House," as Michigan Stadium is known. That was the biggest crowd to ever attend a hockey game.

The fans clad in their blue Toronto Maple Leafs and red Detroit Red Wings jerseys gave the game a big-time feel. So did the presence of hockey's best play-by-play man, Mike "Doc" Emrick, and his boundless lexicon. And the 13-degree temperature, steadily falling snow and goalies wearing knit hats over their helmets added to the spectacle.

The 2-2 game, which ended only when the Maple Leafs' Tyler Bozak put one past Red Wings and Team USA goaltender Jimmy Howard, was like catnip for casual fans.

Its 2.9 rating matched the previous record for an NHL regular-season game, which was set by the 2009 Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.

Yet something seemed off. For what has become the NHL's premier event, there was a sense that the league wasn't pulling out all the stops.

With all due respect to Ann Arbor's own Mayer Hawthorne, who played music while the teams entered and provided a jammy interlude between segments, couldn't the NHL have mustered Eminem, or Jack White or Iggy Pop?

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