DETROIT – Darren Helm, who has played in one regular-season game in the last 19 months, hopes to get his NHL career back on track this week as he begins a rehabilitation stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
General manager Ken Holland confirmed Tuesday night during the Red Wings home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, that Helm will practice with the Griffins this week and play in a pair of American Hockey League games this weekend.
“Under the CBA he can go down for three games and six days, so he’s going to go down and practice tomorrow,” Holland said. “Obviously we’re on the road tomorrow to Denver, so he’s going to practice with Grand Rapids tomorrow and Thursday and play in Grand Rapids home opener on Friday and again Saturday in Rockford.”
Helm will return to Detroit where he’s expected to join the Red Wings in their morning skate prior to hosting the San Jose Sharks that evening.
If all goes according to plan, Holland said, Helm could be in the Red Wings’ lineup for their home game against the New York Rangers on Oct. 26.
Helm has battled a series of injuries that included a sprained knee, lacerated forearm, which required emergency surgery, and a ruptured disk in his lower back. The Wings had hoped Helm would start the season as their No. 3 center, behind Pavel Datsyuk and Stephen Weiss, but a sore groin stymied his recovery from the sore lower back.
“He’s now in the process of getting himself healthy, fit,” Holland said. “He now needs to play some games. The two games in the American League, those are his preseason games. I ask him every couple of days how he’s doing, he feels great, he’s excited to go down. We’re excited, it looks like we’re headed in a positive direction.”
Helm, who injured his back while lifting weights last January, reinjured himself in the only game he played, skating 12 ½ minutes in a 5-3 win over Minnesota on Jan. 25.
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