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Helm hopes to be on ice soon

TRAVERSE CITY – Darren Helm still has no time frame on when he’ll return to the ice from his recent groin setback, but hopes he can get in the lineup before the preseason games are over.

“My groin’s feeling a lot better, range of motion’s pretty much as good as it can be,” Helm said. “(I) still feel it on a couple of things.”

Helm hasn’t skated since Sept. 6.

“I don’t think I’ll be out for the whole exhibition,” Helm said. “I’m hoping a few more days. I have to get back on the ice and see how the groin is, see how my back still is. I’m waiting to see.”

Helm is still limited in his weight training and has yet to be cleared for contact due to his ailing back. He’ll more than likely start the regular season on injured reserve.

No update on Darren Helm (groin/back)

TRAVERSE CITY – Wings general manager Ken Holland had no update on Darren Helm (groin/back), who has yet to take the ice in Traverse City.

“No one’s said anything to me,” he said. “We’re just waiting a period of time.”

Helm suffers another setback in his bid to return to Wings, this time it’s a tender groin

DETROIT – The chances of Darren Helm being healthy enough to start training camp in Traverse City appear to be quite slim after he suffered another setback on the ice.

Helm didn’t take part in the Wings’ informal skate at Joe Louis Arena Monday morning after suffering a groin injury on Friday.

“I came off and I wasn’t too happy,” Helm said. “It wasn’t my back so I wasn’t too upset. I don’t think this is going to keep me off the ice that long.”

Helm said that an ultrasound was performed on Saturday and a slight groin strain was detected.

“They didn’t say it was a bad one,” Helm said. “It’s day to day and we’ll see how I feel. (My) target date is when I feel better. As of right now I would not be able to skate or play.”

The Wings are scheduled to leave for Traverse City on Tuesday and have physicals performed Wednesday before the first day of training camp begins Thursday.

“I don’t know what the plan is,” Helm said. “The plan is to see how I feel Thursday.

“It’s not the way I wanted to start camp,” Helm continued. “I’ve been working pretty hard to get back and be able to participate in camp. Now if it’s not the back it’s another thing. I’ve just got to get healthy and see what I can do.”

Helm had just begun ramping up his workouts on and off the ice since returning from having a slightly torn disc in his back that never required surgery.

He played just one game last season.

“It is almost kind of comical the way these things keep happening,” said Helm, who had been skating in Detroit for nearly a month.

Helm had back issues began before training camp began last season.

“My back is going to be fine,” Helm said. “I did enjoy working out, that’s when my back has felt better when I was doing more. I’ve got to do a little less right now, but I don’t think it’s going to affect my back.

“This summer, the last two or three months, I feel like I’ve made really good progress with my back,” Helm continued. “It’s kind of upsetting that my groin had to have a little effect here. I just need to move forward. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Helm 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.

Miller wearing a bit more protection on glove

DETROIT — Drew Miller will be playing in his second straight game since returning from a broken right hand.

He had to add some extra padding to the outside of his glove to help protect it.

“It doesn’t really add too much to it, it’s got little shock absorber things in it – honey comb type things – to help absorb any shots it takes,” Miller said. “The biggest thing mentally is that I see the bone’s healed well enough. I feel good playing out there. That’s the biggest mental part of it.”

Delay of game

DETROIT — Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson thought he was making the safe play late in the third period, but instead he got a two-minute penalty for delay of game.

“I was caught against the boards and just trying to not get it stopped by the wall by their guy,” Ericsson said. “I don’t think I’d be about to make that, even if I tried, out of 10 times, because the angles are not really there to get it over the boards but I don’t know, just what happens.”

Chicago scored the equalizer with him in the box.

“I thought (it would) hit something,” Ericsson added. “I don’t think I could make that (over the glass) even if I tried.”

Niklas Kronwall was sent off just 1:02 later for the same infraction.

“You could always take the extra-tenth of a second or whatever to make sure the puck is flat,” Kronwall said of his delay of game penalty.

Ins and out

DETROIT – Wings coach Mike Babcock said he’ll go with the same lineup, except in goal, he’s used the last two games, which means defensemen Ian White and Kent Huskins will be healthy scratches.

Forward Valtteri Filppula (left shoulder) didn’t practice and won’t play Sunday.

“I’m amazed, he wasn’t skating today,” Babcock said. “I don’t know.”

On Monday, a specialist told Darren Helm a small tear in a disc was discovered. The normal recovery time is six to eight weeks.

“I don’t know if I’m close to where he thinks I should be healing or not,” Helm said. “But I do feel better, that’s the silver lining, I guess.

“I’m glad they found something, not glad what they found,” Helm continued. “It’s nice to know what it is. I can tell people what it is instead of saying I have no idea and just they think I’m just milking everything. It is something now, I hope that’s all it is so I can get over this and feel better.”

Helm was originally injured on Jan. 10 and hasn’t skated since Jan. 26.

“You can’t rush these things, just got to rest and slowly rehab and hopefully it gets better,” said Helm, who has begun riding an elliptical. “It is definitely a lot better. Just daily stuff, moving around the house, getting down here, it feels better.”

Ericsson heading to Sweden to play for hometown team for free; for at least three games

TROY – As many NHLers are bolting for a paycheck in Europe, one player is heading there to give back.

Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson will play at least three home games for a third-division Swedish club, Vita Hasten.

It’s his hometown team where he grew up playing and they’re struggling to fill the arena.

Ericsson, 28, won’t get paid for playing and a third party has stepped in and is paying to insure his contract with the Wings. He has two years remaining on that contact that pays him $3.25 million a season.

“It’s kind of for a good cause, trying to help out,” Ericsson said. “You’re probably thinking how can they afford his insurance, but it’s one guy who’s stepping in and paying the whole insurance. I’m not getting paid. It’s just to get a good crowd going there.”

Ericsson lives in the town in the offseason.

“Hopefully it can generate some profit for the team,” Ericsson said. “Hopefully they can get on the right track again. It’s going to be fun to do this.”

Ericsson will leave Thursday or Friday and play next Wednesday.

“It’s an OK division,” said Ericsson, who compared the league to the East Coast Hockey League. “They’re a really good team, haven’t lost a game yet. I think they’re 8-0. They’re a second division team but just haven’t made it up there yet.”

The Swedish Elite League won’t accept locked out players who don’t commit for the rest of the season, which benefits the lower Swedish leagues and other European leagues.

As for now, Ericsson plans to just play the three games with the club and then return to Detroit.

“A lot of guys are moving now (going to Europe), if it’s only like four guys skating it’s tough to keep ourselves going in the practices,” Ericsson said. “There’s only so much you can do with that few guys. My plans right now are to come back after those games. I might have to wait a couple of weeks back home, see my family. I’m not in a rush.”

Six other Wings have signed to play in Europe – Henrik Zetterberg (EV Zug, Switzerland), Pavel Datsyuk (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Valtteri Filppula (Jokerit, Finland), Drew Miller (Breahead Clan, Scotland), Jakub Kindl (Pardubice, Czech Republic), Jan Mursak (HDD Olimpija Ljubljana, Slovenia) and Damien Brunner (EV Zug, Switzerland).

“I’m a little bit frustrated, not because of the guys that are leaving, more because nothing’s really happened with the negotiations,” Ericsson said. “They’re trying to solve other things, too, but they haven’t really brought up the big problems for discussion for a while. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen anytime soon.”

All of the Wings are expected to return to Detroit once the lockout is over.

The players were locked out at midnight on Sept. 16.

This is the third lockout during NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s watch.

The first, in 1994-95, ended after 103 days. The last time the league locked the players out it resulted in the cancellation of the 2004-05 season.