03/12/2008 12:01 AM -
As one of the fastest players on the ice, Griffins rookie Darren Helm gets to a lot of places in a hurry, but he also knows the Red Wings aren’t going to rush him to the NHL.
Detroit’s fifth choice, 132nd overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Helm is adjusting to the idea that slow and steady wins the race, although that doesn’t mean the 21-year-old is likely to be caught cooling his heels in Grand Rapids for too long.
A member of the gold medal-winning Team Canada at the 2007 World Junior Championship, Helm hopes to develop his skills post-haste.
Whether it’s listening to the Griffins coaching staff or absorbing advice from three-time Stanley Cup champion Darren McCarty during his comeback, Helm hopes to accelerate his progress.
What’s it been like to have a veteran like Darren McCarty in the dressing room?
"It’s been awesome. He’s always talking, keeping things positive, giving you little tips. With all his experience and the Stanley Cups, he’s definitely a guy you listen to. He’s been a big role player for our team."
You grew up in St. Andrews, Manitoba. What’s it like?
"It’s a suburb of Winnipeg. It’s hard to describe. It’s kind of rural. Almost everybody plays hockey. There’s an outdoor rink where I spent a lot of time growing up.
"I’d get home, try to get my homework done as quick as I could, eat and then head to the rink. I’d be down there from 5 ‘til 9 almost every day, unless I was playing a game. When I was younger, my dad (Gary) and mom (Coriene) always took me skating. They definitely helped me out.
"My older brothers are Scott and Terry. I was always competing with them, so I’ve got to give them credit. Whether it was football, hockey or soccer, I was always trying to be better than them.
"Sizewise, I was pretty small and skinny. Going into junior (hockey), I was about 5-9, 160 pounds. As the height came, I really had to work harder to put on weight and muscle. My biggest obstacle was to get stronger while physically maturing for the next level."
You suffered a shoulder injury in training camp. How much do you think that set you back?
"I wanted to show Detroit how I can play and getting that injury just took the wind out of me. It was definitely frustrating. I was skating by myself for a long time, not able to shoot pucks or play with any contact. Even when I started playing, I didn’t get much ice time. Stuts (Griffins coach Mike Stothers) slowly worked me into a playing spot.
As the season has progressed, you seem like you’ve been working yourself into a role. Are you beginning to feel more comfortable?
"Every game, every practice, I’m building more and more confidence. It’s a big jump from junior to pro. It’s a long process for a rookie. I know it’s not going to happen in one day."
The Red Wings have drawn comparisons between you and Kris Draper. Is it gratifying to know that they have high hopes for you?
"Whenever someone says that, it’s a big compliment. He’s been a great leader and a great player for many years. If they think I can be in that position one day, it gives me a lot of confidence. Hopefully I can become that kind of player. I just have to make sure I stay positive and remain on the right track. Like I said, everything comes with time."
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