DETROIT – If it seems as if you haven’t seen Darren Helm on the ice for quite some time for the Wings it’s because you haven’t.
But he’s ready to make his debut Friday night at Joe Louis Arena against the Minnesota Wild.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been healthy,” Helm said after practice Thursday. “From the end of last year to the lockout and even at the start of this year I started out hurt. I’m anxious to get out there, excited and when they give me the go ahead I’ll be even more excited.”
Helm has been on the wrong end of a rash of injuries of late.
He missed the Wings’ week-long training camp and the first three games of the season with a back injury, which was the first of his playing career.
He 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.
“I just have to do little, less is more,” Helm said. “For me, that first shift, the first 10 minutes, whatever it is, keep it really simple, not try and do too much because that’s when I’ll get in trouble. I feel like I will be tired out there so I can’t be trying things outside my comfort zone.”
The Wings have missed Helm’s speed and last season coach Mike Babcock called him the best third-line center in the league.
“It’s always nice to hear compliments like that,” Helm said. “There are a lot of good third-line centers out there in the league. To have my name up there is pretty nice. I take my job pretty seriously. I want to be a hardworking guy that competes every night. If other people notice it that’s great, but I just have to keep doing my job.”