WINNIPEG - As if the Winnipeg Jets haven't dealt with enough injuries this season.
Today the team confirmed that Bryan Little will be out of the lineup for an undisclosed amount of time with a perforated ear drum. The 31-year-old centre was struck in the ear with an errant slap shot off the stick of teammate Nikolaj Ehlers during the third period of Tuesday's 2-1 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils.
"Presently the symptom he is dealing with is vertigo. The positives are our doctors expect him to make a full recovery. I don't have any timeline for you, we'll just let the healing happen." said Paul Maurice following the Jets practice on Thursday afternoon.
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
Just last week Maurice touched on the emotions that go through the bench when a serious injury happens on the ice in reference to what happened to Senators defenceman Scott Sabourin after he collided with the Bruins David Backes. Clearly, with it happening to one of his long time veterans on his roster, made it tougher.
"I can't really tell from the bench where he gets hit but I know he has a visor on. But it's almost worse when there is not much blood cause you're thinking he got hit in the eye, that's where I go," said Maurice when asked about what the last day and a half has been like since Little went down.
"But he got up and we get a report back out that he's ok. Cause now you've got everybody asking, they're kind of looking at Robby (Head athletic therapist Rob Milette), so we're feeling good. He's going to be alright; it's going to take some time but he's going to be alright."
As for Ehlers whose shot appeared to deflect at least twice on the way to hitting Little, Maurice noted that there was something off about the Danish forward for his next couple of shifts.
"As soon as it happened it was kind of a shock," said Ehlers.
"You know I didn't see exactly where it hit him. I just saw him drop down. I saw him start bleeding, you know you could see he wasn't feeling great and you never want to be one to injure another player. Whether it's an opponent or a teammate. I've never been in that situation before and it shook me up a little but the guys and the coaches and the medical staff, they kind of picked me up a little. It was a 1-1 game so you still had to finish that."
Video: PRACTICE | Nikolaj Ehlers
Blake Wheeler has been a teammate of Little's going back to their days in Atlanta and had been through something similar a few years ago.
"Buff (Dustin Byfuglien) got me up high one time," explained Wheeler.
"So I kind of knew a little bit where he (Little) was. He (Byfuglien) got me with a slapper maybe ten feet closer so I knew it was going to be something that wasn't going to be great. I was lucky that my wife and his wife are really good friends so we were getting feedback pretty much right away that what it was, how he was doing and he was in good spirits. We were able to breathe a sigh of relief right away but once I talked to him yesterday then you feel pretty good about it."
Little wasn't the only player to go down on Tuesday night, the Jets lost another forward as well. Gabriel Bourque, who recorded his 200th NHL point that night, is out for four weeks with a lower body injury. On top of the absence of Dustin Byfuglien, the team has dealt with injuries to Nathan Beaulieu, Mark Letestu and Mason Appleton to name a few.
"We have some injuries right now. We have to find a way to battle through it," said Ehlers.
"We've got some young guys who have come up and done their job. (It) doesn't change our game and we need to bounce back next game, that's the way it is."