While Detroits prospects were doing their best to catch the eye of team officials on the ice Thursday afternoon in Traverse City, there was one Red Wing that was receiving all the attention.
Wings center Darren Helm skated for the first time in two months and was encouraged by the results.
Day one felt good, Helm said. I had a good skate, a good workout and hopefully things keep getting better.
Over the past two seasons, Helm has missed 61 regular season games and 18 playoff games for the Wings with assorted injuries, which border on the freakish (a sliced right forearm from a skate blade) to the confounding (a nagging back injury that has lingered far too long).
There hasnt been a major reason why its (his back) not feeling good, said Helm. Weve done the tests and no one really knows. Two guys say this, one guy says that, so were not one hundred percent sure. There's nothing definitive.
The only thing definitive regarding Darren Helm is that the Detroit Red Wings are counting on their 5-foot-11, 192 pound speed demon to anchorcenter their third-line.
Helms well aware of the Wings expectations, although he doesnt feel pressure from the team to get back soon.
I put more pressure on myself to wanting to get back, to get playing, said Helm. I dont know if there was that pressure (from the Wings). I definitely put pressure on myself last year to get back for at least the playoffs and thats when I was getting kind of frustrated.
Essentially, Helm missed all of last season. He played in just one game, spending the rest of the year on the sideline with his mysteriously damaged back.
As frustrated as he has been, Helm realizes that he has to take it slowly.
After my last setback, we decided that we were going to do it this way by taking extra time, said Helm. Im just hoping that this extra time is the one (treatment) that does it.
"I might have put some pressure previously to rush back ... not rush back because I did feel good, but things didnt work out the way we wanted it to. Its gotta work out this time.
Its apparent that Helm desperately wants to be part of the Wings' lineup. He has been diligent during this rehab process even if it meant just resting for two months doing nothing.
He has reached out to Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg, who has suffered from back problems for years, and Zetterberg has helped Helm realize that the back is a tricky thing.
Z always tells me that the hardest part is trying to find that line of whether it hurts or if its getting better, good pain or bad pain, said Helm. Im still not a hundred percent sure where that is.
For now, as Helm tries to figure out where his back is, hell remain positive and not take any contact during the Wings five-day Skill and Development Camp.
Im excited the way the first day went and Im excited to see how the rest of the week goes, said Helm.
Hes not alone.