TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Neither Darren Helm nor Jerome Verrier saw the other one coming.
It was the first drill of training camp and there was definitely a miscommunication.
The result was Helm and Verrier colliding at full speed with Helm suffering a concussion and a grade 1 separation in his shoulder and Verrier suffering a broken right leg that required surgery.
"I didn't even get my head up quick enough to see him," Helm said. "I was kind of looking back for a pass, I was expecting him to be going up the other side. Somewhere between there, the drill got kind of messed up and both of us were going down the same lane. I remember everything. I remember Blash (coach Jeff Blashill) explained the drill, I remember going down, getting on the wall, coming up with Glennie (Luke Glendening), him passing it to me and just running into a wall and kind of just laying there for a little bit."
Said Verrier: "I remember just before, like, a half a second before, I remember once I received a pass and I turned my head. After that it’s dark."
Helm said he never lost consciousness.
Verrier said he had a few flashbacks of being on the ice but his next memory was of being in the ambulance.
Helm said he stayed on the ice for a while for good reason.
"It hurt," Helm said. "It was a big hit. Not necessarily my head or my shoulder. I didn't even know my shoulder was separated until I got to the hospital. Just all over was achy. I just wanted to lay there a little bit and kind of rest. Then when it was time for me to get up, I got up and went to the dressing room."
Verrier said he wasn't feeling so great either.
"It was a tough four days," Verrier said. "The doctors and nurses took great care of me. I have to say thank you to them, because they did a tremendous job. But with the pain care that they gave me I feel better now. Now I hope to be back on the ice as soon as I can."
Of course, Helm will beat Verrier in getting back on the ice. But with concussions, you just never know.
"I think from what I know, concussions are all different and there's no set timeline in returning and I just hope that I can progress quickly and I can get back and play and that there's no long-term issues," said Helm, who has already had one diagnosed concussion before this one.
Helm, who said he's been feeling a little "off" with a little headache, is going to try riding the stationary bike Tuesday to see how that feels and then they'll decide on the next step.
"I talked to (Helm) today, it seems like he’s in a good spot," Blashill said. "He’s going to be frustrated that something like that, an unfortunate incident happened. He’ll work through it. He knows it’s day-by-day and hopefully he’ll continue to get better."
Verrier might be able to try a stationary bike fairly soon but he'll need two to four months to start skating.
"After Christmas I’ll be back on the ice," Verrier said. "They told me that maybe because I’m young and I have good health with good conditioning, it could be like faster than that. Hopefully I can get some of the best therapists in my hometown, maybe find a good physical therapist and make some good rehab and hopefully I’ll be back quicker than the hot sun."
Verrier was hoping to be able to play either in the ECHL or with the Grand Rapids (AHL) Griffins, but now is looking to play with McGill University in the new year. With luck, he'll be at the Wings' prospects camp in Traverse City in July.
Helm was hoping to mesh with new line mates Brad Richards and Tomas Tatar in camp and during preseason games.
"I was really looking forward to playing with them in camp and I'll be just as forward to hopefully get in a spot to play with them again," Helm said. "Camp's usually a very important time of the year to kind of get into game mode, season mode, and kind of get going, so it's going to take me probably a little bit extra time to get into that spot where I want to be.
"I hope I can do it quickly and play with them right away but if not, then I'll have to try to work my way back into that position. That's the way the game goes sometimes."