It's more than just a game

"People looked at the Winter Classic and said, 'You know what? The business of the NHL can be a lot bigger,'" Collins said.

Somewhere along the line, though, the game has managed to transcend just being big business to become something that resonates with the players, the sponsors and the fans who attend or watch in record numbers every holiday season.

"It's also become a great celebration of the game," Collins said.

Cliche? Maybe. But walking into Michigan Stadium, the ice clean and inviting, and imagining the sights and sounds that will take place here, maybe that's exactly what it is. And, really, what's wrong with that?

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