DETROIT – Red Wings forward Darren Helm continues to have a certain kind of optimism about being ready for the start of training camp, but there is still a bit of hesitation.
“Well, I’ll be able to skate and do most of the drills, but I haven’t really tested it the whole physical aspect of it,” Helm said after returning to practice Wednesday with a number of his teammates during an informal skate at Joe Louis Arena. “I’m just taking the most cliché line of the year, taking it one day at a time. I haven’t really focused on any kind of time line or how it feels today or yesterday. I’m just kind of going every day and working hard and trying to get ready to play.
“I’m skating pretty good,” Helm added. “I feel I’ve been skating pretty good these last couple of weeks. It is something to look forward to since things are going so well going into camp. It’s good knowing that I’ve been skating so hard for this long. There is that certain optimism going into camp.”
Physicals are next Wednesday in Traverse City with the first practice and scrimmages set for Thursday.
“I haven’t even thought about (scrimmaging),” said Helm, who didn’t skate on Tuesday. “It’s going really slow. Today I got bumped a couple of times. A couple weeks ago I got bumped a couple of times and it felt good. I think it’s just a gradual thing. It’s just going to have to come down to comfort between myself, the trainers and the staff that they’ll measure me against.”
Asked if he was pain free he said, “Fairly.”
Helm did say he’s unable to lift like he has been able to in the past and that’s a level he needs to come close to before returning to the ice.
“I’m still a bit away from (squats),” Helm said. “That’s one thing I do want to overcome before I start playing again. I want to be able to do the stuff I used to do, maybe not to the extreme that I used to do, but I still want to be able to do some fairly heavy lifting. I’m not at that point yet.”
Helm played just one game last season due to slightly torn disc in his back that never required surgery.
Helm, who has been skating in Detroit for nearly a month, took part in the Wings’ annual prospects development camp in Traverse City to test out his back.
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.