The return of a legend can be a complicated affair, especially his first time back. Leave it to Nick Lidstrom to handle it flawlessly.

It was no muss-no fuss Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena, as one of the greatest players in the history of the game and one of the greatest Red Wings of all time arrived back in town.

Low key is an understatement. This return was nearly anonymous.

Until the 14-minute mark of the third period, few if any in the sold-out crowd knew Lidstrom was in the building.

The guy who won eight Norris trophies as the best defenseman in the game and who scored or assisted on more than one-in-five of the Wings' goals (21.4 percent) during his 20-year career, barely made a ripple, until his presence was announced, along with that of Tomas Holmstrom, with six minutes left to play.

They were both sitting in the owners' box, barely visible.

Lidstrom waved, soberly. Holmstrom smiled his effusive smile, from ear to ear.

Having delayed his "night," due to the lockout, the shortened season and the lack of time to plan almost anything, if Lidstrom were to appear at Joe Louis Arena this season it would not be the gala night to remember.

That is going to be fun, and probably a little teary-eyed and goose-bumpy. But it comes next season.

All new Red Wings

His return came as almost everything about this season occurs in the context of Lidstrom's absence. Questions abound about the effectiveness of the defense in the Red Wings' zone; generating offense by moving the puck up ice, with dispatch; the fragility of the 21-season playoff streak, the less-than-productive power play and the changing leadership of the most successful franchise in the NHL for the past 15 years.

But leaders of the team keep steering the attention back to the emergence of a new Wings team, and the former captain and future Hall of Famer seemed to signal he knows, too, that is the priority.

From The Detroit News: