Detroit -- Now that the Red Wings are done, Darren Helm can afford to take his time to get completely healthy.
Helm, who injured his back lifting weights before the lockout-shortened season started, was limited to one game, Jan. 25 against the Minnesota Wild.
Wings general manager Ken Holland said Helm had seen four doctors and none of them found anything structurally wrong with his back.
"We're taking it a lot slower," Helm said after the Wings cleaned out their lockers Friday. "Before we had timelines on when I wanted to be healthy and get out there and play. Now I have a few months to work with and get healthy and ready for training camp."
Helm, 26, said he has not been on the ice lately and will hold off on that until he believes he's fully ready.
Helm expressed confidence that he would be ready for training camp.
"Its got to turn around," Helm said. "Ive talked to a lot of people who have said it just takes time and you have to say positive and you have to hope it gets better."
Coach Mike Babcock did not sound quite as sure.
"He's a young man, we need him," Babcock said. "There's no one more sick to his stomach than Helmer over Helmer not playing. But two years in a row we didn't have him at playoff time. We need him at playoff time. But we don't know what's going on. So here we are today, he's no closer today than he was at training camp this year. That's not a good sign.
"The optimist in me says he's a young man, they got to find (the cure), the medical profession is pretty good. We got to figure this out and he's got to get back and playing."
Helm went through two injuries last season, the first a knee injury that kept him out late in the season.
When he returned for the first game of the playoffs against the Nashville Predators, he lasted one shift before suffering a severed tendon in his wrist when he was caught by an errant skate blade.
"It's been tough," Helm said. "I want to play hockey. Last year injuries have been tough for me. I'm kind of curious if I even know how to play hockey anymore. It's been a long time. I'm really itching to get healthy and playing again."
Helm is perhaps the Wings' fastest player and one of the best penalty killers on the team.
In his absence, and with Drew Miller's thumb injury for the end of the season and start of the playoffs, the Wings had to rely on some of their top scorers like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to play shorthanded.
Helm said it was hard to watch his teammates play without him but he was encouraged by the development of some of the young players.
"It was awesome," Helm said. "Guys played really good. It made me upset that I couldn't be there but it was great to see a lot of young guys, few guys who have been here, really step up their game, really encouraging for the future. Great to watch, can't wait to be a part of it."