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Audio from the first day of the Red Wings’ summer development camp: Helmanity

The first day of the Red Wings' summer development camp, at least from a personal perspective, was...Strange.

I was able to watch the first group skate, but almost completely missed the second group's workouts--including Tyler Bertuzzi dropping the gloves with Nick Jensen (Jensen shrugged off the fight afterward)--because I made the decision to, for better or worse, hang with the media pack.

As such, I snagged some good quotes from Tomas Holmstrom, Jiri Fischer and Mattias Janmark-Nylen, and at least stuck my microphone into scrums that Chris Chelios, Anthony Mantha and Jared Coreau...

But Darren Helm's media scrum, which was the reason that I chose to miss the second fifty-minute practice on what really was a getting-to-know you kind of day (in addition to Griffins coach Jeff Blashill, assistant coach Jim Paek, Wings video coordinator Keith McKittrick, Tomas Holmstrom and Chris Chelios, there were three other coaches who I did not recognize), well..

It took forever for Helm to emerge from the medical room or wherever else he was located, and the young man spent ten full minutes essentially answering the same question over and over again.

How is Helm feeling?

He's okay. It was his first day engaging in any kind of athletic activity since the Wings' playoff run ended in May, and he can't go full-out or really push it yet, so he's not going to take part in the scrimmage, and, like Jared Coreau, who's recovering from shoulder surgery, he's not able to participate in every drill.

He's at 70% or 80%, he claims, despite the fact that he looked like the oomph was missing from his stride and that his hands--as he admitted, his hands can be troublesome--were more of a "step or two behind" than his legs were.

What's Helm doing in terms of interacting with the prospects?

On the ice, he's answering questions. In the locker room, he's answering questions. But otherwise? It's hard to say. I had heard that he's not engaging in the team meetings, but I can't confirm that or deny that.

He certainly won't be engaging in full-bore workouts when the players, who took physicals today, will be introduced to Wings strength and conditioning coach Peter Renzetti's grueling workout regimens over the next five days.

And is he going to hang out with the kids, given that he's 26 and given that they're between 18 and 22 for the most part?


A visibly and audibly uncomfortable Helm did his best to get back in the swing of things on the ice, and then he did his best to not offer a completely standoffish, "It's my first damn day, I don't know how I feel!" interview with nearly a dozen digital voice recorders and three or four cameras in his face, but it was hard for him.

Mostly because it's his first day, and he doesn't know how he's going to hold up, and in my opinion, anyway, the back issues that may or may not derail his career are clearly scaring the hell out of him as much as they scare Wings fans, but...

He's got to take things step by step as he very slowly starts getting back into on-ice and off-ice activities, and he's got to see how his body will respond.

Put bluntly, he doesn't have a lot of data to base a single answer to a question off of, never mind ten minutes of iterations on, "HOW'S YOUR BACK DARREN ARE YOU GONNA PLAY IN THE FALL?!?!?!?"

I haven't witnessed a more uncomfortable interview. The media will have more on it and they'll qualify it with the dates and times that he tried to come back and pushed it too hard, etc. etc.

And all I know is that when I asked Helm if he ever found out what the cause of his issues was, and he told me that doctors told him that sometimes you never really find out one specific cause...

That told me all I needed to know about the fact that we simply aren't going to have an answer as to whether Helm will return until when--or if--he returns.

That's an incredibly frustrating situation for both the team and Helm given how important Ken Holland, Mike Babcock and Babcock's teammates say Helm is to the team's future.

And because I spent forty-five minutes in the locker room instead of in the stands, I missed the second group of skaters for the sake of telling you nothing you don't already know.

Here's Helm's interview. If you can get through the whole thing, you're a better man (or woman) than I, because he was just...He was being asked to deal with nails being scraped across his mental chalkboard, to the point that they dug down into the slate blackboard and left gouge marks.

Is he going to be okay?

Reply hazy, ask again tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. And then on Sunday. And Monday. And we'll find out how he feels, or whether he's willing to talk about how he feels.

Here's Jared Coreau talking about his rehab from shoulder issues, what he's able to do on the ice this week, what it meant to be signed by the Wings, and what "turning pro" is about (great interview, nice young man)...

Here's me and Hooked on Hockey Magazine's Kevin Sporka speaking with Mattias Janmark-Nylen, who, as it turns out, speaks better English than I do...

Here's a bit of Richard Nedomlel talking about adjusting to the pro game, working with Chris Chelios and taking part in the Griffins' playoff run as a "Black Ace"...

I got most of Jiri Fischer's scrum and asked the Wings' director of player development some questions that precluded me from getting all of Chris Chelios's scrum...

Here is the aforementioned Chelios scrum...

Here's Anthony Mantha talking about being drafted by the Wings, taking part in the development camp and doing his best to increase his competition level going forward...

And holy crap, Tomas Holmstrom is SUPER NICE, so here's Homer trading quips with the press and then talking to me and Sporka for another three minutes:

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Primis's avatar

God stuff as usual, George.

Posted by Primis on 07/10/13 at 03:01 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

God stuff as usual, George.



Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 07/10/13 at 03:07 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

George, you should make him more (un)comfortable and speak in Portuguese.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 07/10/13 at 03:08 PM ET

SYF's avatar

...including Tyler Bertuzzi dropping the gloves with Nick Jensen (Jensen shrugged off the fight afterward)...

Reminded me a bit of Probert vs. Primeau in a past training camp.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 07/10/13 at 03:51 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I know its not really what this update was about, but man do I miss Fischer on the ice.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 07/10/13 at 06:26 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

This is the good stuff, George.  Thank you.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 07/11/13 at 01:32 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Poor Helmer.  The whole ordeal with his back is bad enough.  Too bad he has to deal with trying to answer a question that is unanswerable over and over and over. 

Thanks for the interview with Homer.  I loved it.  Is it me or is his English getting a whole lot better?  I’m glad to see him doing some coaching for the Wings and I hope he continues in that role.

cool smile

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 07/11/13 at 10:01 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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