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Helm is week away from return to lineup

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Darren Helm missed all of the preseason with a concussion and a slightly separated shoulder. The Wings forward hopes to return to the lineup next week. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROITDarren Helm said he’s about a week from returning to the Red Wings’ lineup following the horrific head-to-head training camp collision that has sidelined him for nearly three weeks.

“I went out to Ann Arbor yesterday and skated with a couple of guys out there and they were pushing me around a little bit,” said Helm, who skated Wednesday in a full practice for the first time since the incident. “That was kind of the progression that I need yesterday to do some stuff with the guys today, to do that contact.”

Helm suffered a low-grade shoulder separation and a concussion when he collided with Jerome Verrier in the team’s first on-ice drill of last month’s four-day training camp in Traverse City.

As a result of the collision, Verrier, a camp invitee from Quebec, had to have surgery to repair a fractured right tibia.

Helm’s shoulder is no longer an issue, however, the post-concussion symptoms are still a slight concern, which is why he skated Tuesday at the University of Michigan’s Yost Arena with Dr. Jeff Kutcher, the director of UM’s NeuroSport Program and one of the country’s foremost authorities on concussion research.

“I did my testing yesterday. Everything went well,” Helm said. “Now it’s just trying to get to the level I need to be at to play hockey. I’m still sucking wind pretty hard out there during practice, but things have been coming a long way since I first stepped on the ice. … It’s that progression and be ready for next week.”

Helm will not play this weekend in either Friday’s season opener against Toronto at Joe Louis Arena or the next night at Carolina. He will miss his third season opener in the past four years.

“Helmer had a full practice today,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think he’s taken great steps in the right direction. We will not play him Friday, more so from a preparation standpoint. He didn’t get a chance in training camp so now it’s like training camp started basically today and then we’ll proceed as the week goes on.”

Helm competed in every drill on Wednesday, including contact and battle drills. The hope is that the contact and exertion will not trigger symptoms.

“I haven’t had really a lot of symptoms,” he said. “I’ve had a few headaches here and there, but they’ve been few and far between, which is good. Every time I’ve done more and more, nothing’s really sparked it. Everything’s kind of stayed the same and I’ve been able to just keep moving with the game plan that we’ve set out and it’s been working well.

“The head just needs to learn how to deal with that skating, the pushing, the shoving, getting knocked around. I want to start ramping that up but I don’t want to give it too much at one time. I want to take the progression a little bit at a time and work my way up to next week where I can take part in a game.”

Luke Glendening

BACK TO CENTER: Blashill’s experiment to use Luke Glendening as a third-line winger with Riley Sheahan and Johan Franzen has come to an end.

During Wednesday’s practice, Glendening centered the fourth line with Drew Miller and Landon Ferraro. With the move, forward Teemu Pulkkinen was elevated to the third line, which left Dan Cleary, Joakim Andersson and Tomas Jurco as extras.

“I thought Glennie did a good job on the wing,” Blashill said, “but I also love having him at center. We wanted to experiment with it through the preseason, but with him at center you can put four lines out there, I could put four lines out there that I feel extremely confident offensively and defensively. So it gives us a chance to use him as a match-up center if we want to. But it also gives Pulkkinen a chance in more of an offensive role. I would say it serves both of those purposes.”

Cleary, Andersson and Jurco all wore gray practice jerseys Wednesday, which seemed to signify scratches for the upcoming game.

Following practice, the 36-year-old Cleary was placed on waivers. The veteran has until noon Thursday to be claimed by another NHL club.

“He’s on waivers right now, so we have a 24-hour period,” Blashill said. “We’ll see at noon how that goes. I don’t want to speculate on anything besides he’s on waivers right now.”

Jakub Kindl

INJURY UPDATES: Helm wasn’t the only Wings skater on injured reserve to skate Wednesday. Defensemen Jakub Kindl (eye infection) and Alexy Marchenko (groin) also participated in a full practice for the first time in more than a week.

Kindl claims he’s ready go in the season opener, though Marchenko is still a ways off.

“Not yet,” the 23-year-old Russian said. “I just want to get healthy as quick as possible and start to play wherever they see me, either here or in (Grand Rapids).”

According to Blashill, should Kindl be ready for Friday, he’ll start the game paired with Brendan Smith.

With three defensemen still on IR, Blashill is reluctant to send Xavier Ouellet back to the American Hockey League just yet.

“Right now again as guys come off the IR we’re going to have to make some decisions,” Blashill said. “Once we know guys are coming off the IR we’ll have to make some roster decisions beyond what we have.”

Pavel Datsyuk (ankle) and Danny DeKeyser (foot) are still on IR. The Wings hope Datsyuk, who had surgery in late June, will begin skating later this week.

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