The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/23/14 at 03:27 AM ET
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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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.