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This was the best Classic yet

Updated: January 1, 2014, 8:52 PM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Winter Classic began as a new, shiny vehicle for the NHL six years ago in snowy Buffalo as a way to reach out to new fans and broaden the scope of hockey in the United States.

And it did just that, with the game's best player -- Sidney Crosby -- once again lending his marketing power in the original Winter Classic with a memorable shootout winner, and every ensuing New Year's Day game from Wrigley Field to Fenway Park to each venue altogether helping raise awareness ...

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