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Helm hopes for weekend return

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Darren Helm returned to practice Thursday for the first time since suffering a strained groin last week.
DETROIT – The Red Wings left on their annual fathers’ trip on Thursday afternoon with their sights set on Toronto and Chicago this weekend.

But whether forward Tomas Holmstrom or center Darren Helm will play in front of their fathers – Henrik and Gary, respectively – is undetermined. That’s because both players continue to nurse sore groins, though Helm returned to practice Thursday, the first time that he’s skated this week.

“Obviously the first day on the ice in five or six days, felt pretty good,” said Helm, who has missed the last three games. “We'll see how it feels (Friday). That'll probably be a bigger indicator of how things went today.”

Both Helm and Holmstrom looked good in practice, but both also left the ice at City Sports Arena early, leaving coach Mike Babcock thinking neither will be healthy enough to play Saturday against the Maple Leafs.

“I don't think so (Saturday), but there's another practice tomorrow, so we'll see what happens,” Babcock said. “We're set-up to go without them, but they're good players, when they're available we'll use them.”

Helm was more optimistic about an earlier return, saying Friday’s practice in Toronto will be a good litmus test.

“I wasn't really pushing myself too hard out there,” he said. “A couple times I tried to get up to full speed, but I never really went after it too hard. It felt good. I didn't really feel it at all while I was skating.

“If it feels unbelievable (tomorrow), maybe (I'll play Saturday). We're playing back-to-back, that's pretty tough jumping into back-to-backs with this kind of injury. Maybe Saturday off and shoot for Sunday.”

Either way, a part of Helm wants to get back in the Wings’ lineup, if for no other reason then his father traveled a long way to see him play this weekend.

“It would be nice, he's come a long way,” Helm said. “He understands what kind of injury it is. He used to play hockey. He understands the bigger picture. It would definitely be really nice to play with him in the crowd; Toronto and Chicago are two great venues.”

And even if Helm doesn’t play, he’s looking forward to going with his dad to the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto.

“I've never really walked around there and looked at things,” Helm said. “I'm excited about it. I know my dad hasn't been there. He's excited about it. … He shows his emotions quite highly. It should be fun to be there.”

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