Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Helm arrives in time to remind Detroit Red Wings how to play like the Detroit Red Wings

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Helm isn’t going to make the kind of noise that the likes of Sidney Crosby are capable of upon returning, but this day has been a long time coming for the Detroit Red Wings and their fans. It’s been 281 days since the Wings had the services of a player who coach Mike Babcock called a top-four forward on his team last March.

He’s not going to descend from the ceiling with fireworks going off (though that would be awesome) and most folks in Edmonton probably aren’t even going to realize how big of a boost Helm provides when healthy. They’ll figure it out and remember soon enough though.

You’ll have to forgive Wings fans for being cautious in their approach to this song and dance. Helm was supposed to return last weekend, but suffered a setback when he tweaked his groin. That was only the most recent chapter in Helm’s autobiography called “Setback.”

Again, it’s been 281 days. Several (several, several) injures, including difficulties ironing out a problem with his back and groin pulls have kept Helm off the ice. Tonight appears to be the night that he gets back into the bottom six for Detroit.

The timing couldn’t possibly be better.

Detroit has been limping along like a wounded animal lately. They’re still capable of doing some damage, but the opposition hasn’t got close enough for the Wings to sink their teeth in recently. When Helm left, the Wings were a defensively responsible squad that never gave up the puck without forward motion.

Now the D is young and turnover prone, and the new forwards like Stephen Weiss don’t seem to grasp how to play Red Wings hockey.

Enter Helm.

The  man skates harder than just about anyone else on every play. He treats every shift like it could be his last, hits everything that he can, forechecks whenever he can and is the epitome of hustle.

Something that Detroit needs badly right now. At times it’s seems like the Wings have been trying to win games on their talent alone, but that hasn’t been getting the job done. No one is going to roll over for Detroit like they seem to be waiting for. Leave it to Helm to remind everyone how it’s done.

Don’t expect miracles from the guy. It’s been a long time since he’s seen time in an NHL game. Don’t expect goals or fancy plays. That isn’t what makes Helm special though. You can’t take the tenacity out of a player like him. He’ll bring the same thing to the ice tonight that he always has because it’s his attitude and drive that make him an important part of the DNA in Detroit.

Tags: Darren Helm Detroit Red Wings NHL