The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/13/13 at 11:51 AM ET
MLive's Brendan Savage posted a story about Darren Helm's slow but finally steady recovery from a torn disc and/or ligament in his lower back. Helm's accompanying the Wings on their Western Canadian swing to take part in practices with the team:
"It'll be nice to be on the road," Helm said. "Get back on a plane, dinner, share some time with the guys. It was nice when I was in Columbus, got to skate with a few of the guys that were injured or not playing and it was nice being on the plane and just going out to dinner. It's been awhile and I miss it. It will be good for my body and mind. I've been so cut off this year. It has been hard not being part of the team. Guys have been good, keeping me a part of things, but it's not the same when you're not out on the ice. Just joking around, shooting the puck around after, having lots of fun after the actual practice."
As you already know, Helm's injury history has been nuts over the past year-and-a-half, but he's coming around now. His goal is to continue his slow but steady pace as he gets back into game shape:
"I felt pretty good," said Helm, a third-line center whose speed and energy have been missed by the Red Wings. "There are still a few things I want to overcome. I really don't want to feel any pain after skates, the next morning. It feels good, but there are still a few things I need to do.
"We're coming up to a year and I've only played 13 minutes of hockey. I'm a little rusty out there, I kind of felt it today, just handling the puck and kind of getting timing right. I don't think my legs will take as long as I think, but timing will and just playing the game I want to play. It'll take a while for me to get back to where I want to be at. Today was the first day I've been on with the team in five or six weeks. It's definitely nice to be out there. I can kind of see the end coming close."
Helm said next Wednesday's home game against Minnesota was originally the target date for his return but he doesn't want to take any chances after sitting out so long. He wants to make sure his back is 100 percent healthy before he steps onto the ice in a game. He also wants to be mentally ready.
"I want to make sure there are no issues with that, with my mind," he said. "I want to make sure when I'm out there that's the furthest thing from my thoughts. I want to be as healthy as I can before I get back out there and not a thought in my mind about it.
"I got a little tired out on the ice. We've come so far to have a little setback here. We're definitely taking it slow and smart and making sure we do this right. I will have missed almost a full year. You can't just miss a year of hockey, step back into things and be the way you were.
"There's a lot of things I've got to get prepared for. The mental part of the game is really going to be important for me. Just focusing, the pregame preparation, it's going to take a while to get back to where I need to be."
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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.