Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice confirmed after morning skate in Dallas on Thursday morning that centre Bryan Little will not return to the lineup this season due to a fractured vertebrae.
Bryan Little was held back from travelling with the team to Dallas to undergo additional tests which led to the discovery of the injury. Little was injured on a hit from defenceman Anton Stralman of the Tampa Bay Lighting in the second period of the Jets 6-5 shoot-out loss last week in Tampa. Little had stumbled on the ice and was in a vulnerable position skating into the opposition's zone when Stralman closed in on Little and collided with him head on as he was falling.
There was no call on the play at the time and Maurice was livid as Stalman in the same shift had a knee-on-knee collision with rookie Nikolaj Ehlers. At the start of the third period of that Tampa game, Maurice got into an argument with the referee before the puck was even dropped and was ejected from the game.
Little has 17 goals and 42 points in 57 games for the Jets this season and is second on the team in scoring. The injury to the Jets number one centre is another setback in a season that has had many high points for the team.
Little and captain Andrew Ladd lead the team with 17 goals each and now Little is out for the remainder of the season and Ladd is potentially on the trade block ahead of the NHL trade deadline on February 29. The Jets also announced that the recalled forward Matt Halischuk. Halischuk has played 13 games for the Jets this season and has yet to register a point.
After news broke Thursday about the injury fans were quick to share their reactions on social media.
So Bryan Little is done for the season. The tank just got sadder. #NHLJets— @jstar1973
oh my GOD that's awful I hope he makes a full recovery :( https://t.co/3BBMk6W4Ym— @paciorettys