Darren Helm on the mend

After surgery on his right hand and wrist in April, Darren Helm is contraption-free and excited to get back to work.

DETROIT -- While Red Wings fans mourn the retirement of sublime captain Nick Lidstrom, there was a bit of happy news.


Darren Helm is healing nicely and had the contraption attached to his right hand and arm removed Wednesday.


"Whenever you're missing something, it feels weird," Helm said after watching Lidstrom's press conference. "It feels good to have it off. Seven weeks with it on, not a lot I could do. Just kind of awkward, prevented me from doing a lot of stuff.


"Now it's off, it feels good, starting to use it more. It's my dominant hand so I think that will help with the healing process. It sucked when it was on but now I'll be using it more and more and it should heal up pretty quickly."


Helm returned from a knee injury in time to play in the first game of the Wings' first-round series against the Nashville Predators, only to leave a few minutes into the game.


Helm checked Nashville forward Alex Radulov along the boards and Radulov fell to the ice, his skate came up and slashed Helm's right forearm, cutting tendons. Helm rushed off the ice.


The speedy forward had to undergo season-ending surgery, much as Mike Modano did the previous season when he was cut by the skate of Columbus' R.J. Umberger.


Although Helm had the cast removed, it does not mean he can get back to full activity yet.


"I'm cleared to do some therapy activity with elastic bands and Play-Doh, small things," Helm said. "I think right now if I keep doing that stuff it'll kind of take off positively and the healing process will go pretty quick now that I'm actually using (the arm)."


Helm said he'll likely be able to resume full activity at the 12- to 16-week point, about a month and a half from now.


When Helm does return, he'll have a new captain. He'll also have something to tell his future children.


"That I got to play with one of the all-time greats," Helm said. "Professional leader, great human being. He did it right every day and I was one of the lucky ones to get a chance to play with him."


Helm echoed many of the things that were said about Lidstrom following his retirement press conference.


"His consistency. His inability to make mistakes, just far and few in between," Helm said. "You can probably count them on one hand in his 20-year career, or since the time I've been watching him. Every day how great he was, on the ice, off the ice, talking to him. If you needed anything, he was there for you.


"(He was) just one of the best, one of the greatest human beings."