The only thing that would make the Detroit Red Wings happier than seeing Nicklas Lidstrom's No. 5 go up to the rafters in Joe Louis Arena on Thursday is if the former captain came out of retirement to play against the Colorado Avalanche after the ceremony.

Jonathan Ericsson thinks he could do it too.

"He could probably come in and play today without even practicing, that's how good he is," Ericsson told NHL.com. "Well, to be realistic, maybe he'll need a few practices. But if he practiced for a week you wouldn't even know he was gone for a year and a half."

Unfortunately the Red Wings know all too well that Lidstrom has been gone since announcing his retirement on May 31, 2012. They'll honor him Thursday by retiring his jersey, but seeing No. 5 up in the rafters will only remind the Red Wings players what they're missing.

Lidstrom was their leader and best player until the day he retired. Goalie Jimmy Howard said it's still weird that he isn't around.

"You look in the middle of the dressing room and you're expecting to see No. 5, Lidstrom's nameplate sitting there," Howard said. "But playing with Nick and just learning so much of how to be a pro on and off the ice, he's just a great human being. When they say he's a perfect human being, it's actually true."

Lidstrom earned the reputation as being the perfect human because if he had any warts on his game or his personality, he never let them show.

* He won the Stanley Cup four times and in 2008 he became the first European to captain a Cup-winning team.

* He won the Norris Trophy seven times, a mark surpassed only by Bobby Orr's eight.

* He finished his career with 1,142 points and a plus-450 rating in 1,564 games.

* He had 183 points in 263 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

* The Red Wings never missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Lidstrom's 20 seasons, winning at least one round 14 times.

Those who played with Lidstrom still say he's the best defensemen they ever played with. Those who played against him say he's the best defensemen they ever played against. Coaches admired him for his perfection and how he never seemed to sweat in the big moment; they feared him because of how good he was. General managers would dream that one day he'd play for them, even if they knew that day would never come.