DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm continues to take his comeback from a back injury one day at a time.
“Like I said last year I try not to think about (when I’ll be back),” Helm said Thursday at Joe Louis Arena. “When I get better I get better. I’m not putting time lines on it. I’m not focused if I have a bad day or a good day I’m just going straight forward.”
Helm was with nine other teammates and a handful of other NHLers and minor leaguers taking part in an informal skate prior to the start of training camp.
“I’m not putting a timeline on opening season,” Helm said. “I’m just trying to get better. I did want to get back for last year, but with no real reason of why I had back pain it made me push harder and harder to work through it. Now, things are going well, I want to keep it at this pace and when I’m ready I’m ready.”
Helm wouldn’t use the word encouraged to describe how he feels where he’s at in his recovery process just yet.
“I haven’t thought about the word I would use,” Helm said. “I’ll be even happier when I’m playing in a game.”
Helm played just one game last season due to slightly torn disc in his back that never required surgery.
Helm took part in the Wings’ annual prospects development camp in Traverse City to test out his back.
“Traverse City was the first time I’ve skated in a long time,” Helm said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to push myself too hard at the start, but I eventually got there.”
Helm has been skating in Detroit for nearly three weeks.
“It’s been feeling really good,” Helm said. “I’ve still got some work to do in the weight room and a few more things (on the ice) to get past, but I think it’s really looking good. I don’t think it’s the first hit (I need to get past), there are a lot of different aspects of the game that I’m kind of worried about at this stage that I’m at right now. Hitting obviously is a big one, twisting and turning, even getting tired and trying to push it because that’s when you get hurt is when you’re tired. I’m not in the shape I’m usually in so I’ve got to get back in that kind of shape.”
“I haven’t felt the pain I’ve felt before in a long time,” Helm added. “It’s more muscles I haven’t used in five or six months. I used them here or there to try and get back last year. We’ve been skating pretty good here, having some good workouts and I’m just going to keep going.”
Helm, who back issues began before training camp began last season, has been on the wrong end of a rash of injuries of late.
He was hit by a puck on Nov. 2 during an informal skate in Troy, breaking an orbital bone.
On March 17, he missed the final 10 regular-season games with a sprained MCL. Then, in his first game back, the playoff opener against Nashville, he had tendons in his forearm sliced by a skate.