DETROIT — It was a stressful week for Darren Helm that had a positive ending.
Helm, 29, was an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season but ended up re-signing with the Red Wings for five more years.
“It was a pretty crazy week,” Helm said. “I got to talk to a few different teams, visited a couple cities. It was a bit of an emotional week going into it. Just talking to my family, our hearts were definitely set staying in Detroit. We found a way to make it work and I couldn’t be happier.”
Helm said his fiancee, Devon, was having a hard time with the uncertainty of where the family would be.
“We got two girls, she’s pregnant again, so that extra stress wasn’t helping her either,” Helm said. “I think it was pretty hard on her. I was just listening and relaying messages back to her. We were just trying to see what’s out there, see what was the best choice for our family and make a decision at the end.”
Helm said their third daughter is due in November.
Helm had expressed some concern about his role after last season ended, but he said it was more about communication about his role than the role itself.
“I like to be able to jump different spots, different roles when I need to, different match-ups, whatever the case is,” Helm said. “Sometimes I didn’t feel like the message was relayed to me clearly. I didn’t know if I was moving because I wasn’t playing well, if I was getting sat because I was doing things wrong, if it was match-ups. So we talked and we just want to make a better line of communication between the two of us and that will have to continue throughout the year.”
Helm has played mostly wing the last few years but that could be different this season, especially after the departure of Pavel Datsyuk.
“I think I might be starting at center again this year,” Helm said. “I haven’t played that in a couple years. So I think (coach Jeff Blashill) wanted to get me kind of back in that, being able to move the puck up the ice a little bit from the D zone. So I’m really looking forward to that, going to start there. Hopefully I solidify myself as another solid third-line center, like I thought I did before.”
That could mean that Riley Sheahan shifts more to wing, depending on what happens in training camp and the preseason.
In any case, the Wings will be looking to find ways to ease captain Henrik Zetterberg’s burden, so Helm could be one of the players to step in.
“Losing Pav, that’s going to put some extra pressure on a few of the other guys, Helm said. “That’s one thing Kenny (Holland) said as well, Pav’s gone, there’s spots for guys to step up and there’s a few guys looking to fill that role or fill those extra minutes. That’s a big thing that we’ll have to do to take a step to fill if we want to be successful. It’s exciting, hopefully get an opportunity to play a little bit more in key situations.”
The team will continue to rely on Helm as one of their top penalty-killers.
In the salary-cap era, there’s considerably more parity among teams so Helm feels that the Wings need to be a unified group.
“I think we’re probably going to have to work a little bit harder than a lot of teams,” Helm said. “We’re going to have to find a way to win as a team and come together a little bit stronger, unify a little bit more as a team. I think if guys are fighting a little big harder for each other, I think we have a better chance of winning if we’re working hard.”
Now that things are settled for Helm and his family, he hopes that the team can return to the success they had when he first started as a rookie in 2008.
“I love it. I’m so happy. I know (Devon) is,” Helm said. “She’s made a lot of great relationships outside the team, so have I. There’s a lot of great guys on this team that I’ve created really good bonds with.
“I definitely see this team growing and becoming a contender and I would love to win another Cup here.”