Darren Helm says his wonky back is feeling better and he hasn’t suffered any setbacks.
What he’s not saying, though, is when he’ll return to the Detroit lineup.
“I’m not thinking about it. I’m just trying to get better,” Helm told MLive.com on Thursday. “I’m not putting a time line on opening the season.
“I’m just trying to get better.”
Helm, 26, suffered through a disastrous 2013 campaign after hurting his back during the lockout. The injury forced him to miss all but one game and the entire postseason, despite the fact he spent the majority of the year rehabbing to try and get back on the ice.
The new plan, Helm says, is to go at a more comfortable pace and ease back into the lineup — meaning however long it takes is however long it takes.
“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,” he explained. “Now, things are going well, I want to keep it at this pace and when I’m ready I’m ready.”
Getting Helm back for the regular season — which starts Oct. 2 at home against Buffalo — will be huge for the Wings. Detroit head coach Mike Babcock has often referred to Helm as “the best third-line center in the league,” and center will be a key position for the Wings this year as their new signing, Stephen Weiss, takes over for Valtteri Filppula as the No. 2 man down the middle.
Helm is also the Wings’ fastest forward and, despite is relative young age, one of the club’s most vested playoff performers. He has 65 games of postseason experience to his credit — including a Stanley Cup in 2008 — and scored a career-high six points in 11 games during the 2010-11 run.