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Red Wings’ Darren Helm not healthy enough to be feted for perseverance and dedication to hockey?

Between having been in attendance for Darren Helm's uncomfortable exchanges with the media last summer and fall, addressing his inability to train during the offseason when he wasn't squirming, and having heard so many NHL'ers insist that offseason training is the fitness foundation that helps them avoid injuries...

I've kind of assumed that Helm was going to bounce from minor injury to minor injury this season, and that Red Wings fans will see the "real Darren Helm" on a much more regular basis next season.

Helm was a difference-maker in the positive sense over the course of the Red Wings' 5-4 shootout win over Chicago despite finishing at -3 on the evening, and the Hockey News's Rory Boylen believes that Helm might have been a Masterton Trophy candidate if his "perseverance and dedication to hockey" wasn't being rewarded with an injury-plagued return to action:

Helm’s career had been trending up over his first three NHL seasons as his role with the Red Wings expanded. But a wild run of bad luck with the injury bug has stalled all his progress.

A knee injury cut his 2011-12 season down to 68 games and though he was back for the playoffs, a skate blade severed tendons in his forearm and ended his post-season run in the very first game.

He was again supposed to be ready for the start of the lockout-shortened season last January, but he hurt his back lifting weights just before training camp. That injury was expected to be short-term at first – and he did play last Jan. 25 – but it nagged and nagged and ultimately cost him a season.

And it’s even continued in 2013-14. During his conditioning stint with AHL Grand Rapids in October, Helm tweaked his groin, which delayed his NHL comeback until Nov. 2, when he scored the game-winner on his first shot. Then it was a shoulder injury that cost him most of December and the groin again that cost him the Winter Classic and most of January.

In 18 games this season, Helm has seven goals and 11 points, a full-season pace that would shatter his current best of 12 goals and 32 points. And he’s done it over an interrupted re-acclimatization period.

At some point, Helm will be mentioned in regards to the Bill Masterton Trophy. Maybe he’s still missing too many games to win it this year, especially with Manny Malhotra and, potentially, Steven Stamkos also deserving recognition. Maybe it’s Helm’s to lose next season, if he can work back into full-time duty.

Boylen continues and wonders what Helm might become when he's a healthy player on a more regular basis.

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Comments

Hootinani's avatar

Stamkos?  So all you have to do to win the Masterton now is come back from one semi-routine injury that doesnt even cost you a season?

That kind of deminishes what a guy like Saku Koivu went through to come back, or even what Josh Harding is going through now.

Posted by Hootinani on 01/23/14 at 09:41 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

deminishes

diminishes, damn I’m an idiot

Posted by Hootinani on 01/23/14 at 09:42 AM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Helm being -3 had a lot to do with being stuck with Cleary and Bert also -3.  They are far too slow to be with Helm.  The young baby Wings really magnify a few problems with the Wings.

Unfortunately Cleary, Sammy and Bert are past the expired date. Once great Wings but can’t keep up in todays game, IMO.

Will see who sits/waived once the injured Wings get back.  If the Wings want to be a better team some hard decisions on those 3 and a couple of others.

Youth with Speed, big HEALTHY bodies, skills, ...  Wings out hit the Hawks and fore checked hard.  Some great prospects seem to be making it tough to send them back to GR.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 01/23/14 at 10:24 AM ET

Avatar

It’s Manny Malhotra. Even if Helm was healthy the whole year. Manny was pretty much out of hockey.

Posted by fromdowntown on 01/23/14 at 10:25 AM ET

SYF's avatar

If anything (and even though I had the game on mute), NBC showed some graphics and a chuckle-worthy dry-board diagramming from Olcsux about how Helm uses the springy boards to his advantage.  He did it at least three times last night and they were all bona fide scoring chances.  Didn’t finish, but it brought terror to Crawford’s crease.  The Helm that raised hell at the WJCs several years ago is the guy we’re waiting to see when he’s healthy.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 01/23/14 at 12:31 PM 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.