Winnipeg Jets’ Bryan Little is back on the injured reserve after suffering a perforated ear drum when a hard, rising slapshot hit him in the side of the head earlier this week.
Head coach Paul Maurice told reporters on Thursday that Little had also been dealing with vertigo as a result of the incident, which happened during the third period of the Jets 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
Maurice said it’s not clear when Little will return to play but he is expected to be released from hospital at some point on Thursday.
Doctors also expect him to make a full recovery, Maurice said, adding everyone in the locker room is relieved.
“Bryan is so well liked in the locker room that everybody, you know, you feel sick for him,” Maurice said.
The 31-year-old Little, who has played his entire 13-season NHL career with the same franchise — four years with Atlanta before the team was relocated to Winnipeg — also missed the first nine games of this season with a concussion.
Both teams shocked
On Tuesday, he was circling behind the Devils’ net when teammate Nikolaj Ehlers blasted a one-timer from the point. It hit Little in the left side of the head and he collapsed to the ground as players on both teams looked on with shocked expressions.
Maurice said the whole bench was concerned and asking for updates on Little during the rest of the game, especially Ehlers who he said was clearly affected.
“We knew fairly early on that he was going to be alright and then everybody kind of settled down, but then it kinda turns to Nik Ehlers, and understandably, but his next few shifts he was obviously off.”
As the Jets’ trainer ran over, Little pulled off his helmet and blood ran down his hand and onto the ice.
After a few minutes on his knees, he got to his feet with help from Ehlers and the trainer.
He was helped to the bench and then rushed to St. Boniface Hospital where he received 25-30 stitches.
Little was then transferred to the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre’s neurological unit for further observation, and he has been there ever since.
The Jets also announced on Thursday that forward Gabriel Bourque is also out at least four weeks with a lower-body injury
The injury-riddled team has called up 22-year-old forward Joona Luoto from the Manitoba Moose.