Wings' Helm shelved for 6 weeks with bum shoulder

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Some more bad news for Darren Helm, a player who is used to it because of various injuries throughout his career.

Detroit center Darren Helm reacts after a collision with Tampa Bay defenseman Nikita Nesterov in the third period on Nov. 15.

Helm and the Red Wings found out Wednesday he’ll be out a minimum of six weeks after dislocating his left shoulder in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay.

Coach Jeff Blashill said surgery is not necessary at this point, but the six-week projection is minimum regardless of surgery.

Helm has been battling injuries going back to the 2011-12 season when he suffered knee and wrist injuries late in the regular season and playoffs.

From there, it’s been a variety of issues until Helm played 75 and 77 games the last two seasons, leading to re-signing with the Red Wings this past summer, a five-year contract worth $19.5 million, while foregoing unrestricted free agency.

In 17 games this season Helm has seven points (four goals, three assists) with a team-best plus-6 rating while averaging over 15 minutes of ice time.
Helm has, arguably, been one of the Red Wings best all-around forwards.

“He’s been a real effective player for us,” Blashill said. “He brings energy, wins pucks battles, gives you tons of speed, so he’s a big piece of our team.
“But this is the NHL and you have to find ways with other guys to go on and win.”

Blashill, though, felt badly for Helm’s string of bad luck.

“He’s had a tough go the last number of years,” Blashill said. “He has to keep his head up and keep plugging and get himself mentally in a spot where he’ll be ready when he comes back.

“The big thing for me is I just hate to see it happen to the guy again. It’s unfortunate.”

Helm was upended by Tampa Bay defenseman Nikita Nesterov in the third period, with Helm falling squarely on his shoulder.

Helm immediately clutched his arm — he could have injured his shoulder or wrist — and skated directly to the end of the bench and raced down the hallway to the locker room.

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The Red Wings will call up a forward from Grand Rapids — the Griffins played Wednesday night — Thursday in time for the game Friday in Washington.
Tyler Bertuzzi, who was just sent back down to the Griffins earlier this week, could be a candidate to be promoted.

Blashill said the Red Wings will get Thomas Vanek (hip strain) back off the injured list in time for Sunday’s game against Calgary, while Andreas Athanasiou (knee) is out for another two weeks.

Expect Riley Sheahan to get the bulk of Helm’s playing time, at least early on, with Luke Glendening and Steve Ott — who has played much at center early in his career — are also options to play in the middle.

“We’ve got multiple options,” Blashill said. “We’ll talk and make a decision. We’ll look at stuff in practice and make a decision.”

This could be an opportunity for Sheahan to break out of a season-long slump, not having scored a goal yet in 17 games while also seeing his playing time diminish in recent games.

“Potentially Riley could get more opportunity,” Blashill said. “Production matters to him and we certainly need to score goals.

“I’d like for it to be followed by good process, where he’s physical, strong on the puck and a heavy puck presence. That’s what we need.”

Sheahan has played primarily on the wing, so moving back to his natural center position could help.

“Center is where I’ve played all my life,” Sheahan said. “I don’t prefer one or the other, I’m happy to contribute any way I can.

“When you’re a forward, you want to be putting up points. You don’t let it get to your head, everyone has their role and we win and lose as a team, and just have to be focusing on playing better.”