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Jets' forward Little out for rest of season

Recovery from fractured vertebrae expected to take eight weeks

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

DALLAS -- Winnipeg Jets center Bryan Little will miss the rest of the regular season with a compression fracture of his T6 vertebrae.

Little, who leads the Jets with 17 goals and is second in scoring with 42 points in 57 games, was injured Feb. 18 in a 6-5 shootout loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning following a hit by Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman. He had missed the past two games.

"It is mid-to-lower back, so it was a significant amount of force that caused the compression fracture, and he will be out for the remainder of the regular season," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "I think it's an eight-week injury."

Maurice expects Little to make a full recovery.

"I'm not a doctor, it's the big bone of your spine that once he heals through that process he should be ready to go," Maurice said. "The muscles will have calmed down and all the things around it, so he'll be ready to be a player and to train."

Losing a Little, one of the Jets' more experienced centers, leaves a big hole for Maurice to fill.

"Oh, it's a problem," Maurice said. "I'm going to move somebody into center ice who hasn't played center all year. Then I'm going to run Mark Scheifele [out so he] becomes the old man at center ice. The center ice position drives so much of what you do and we're going to miss him greatly."

Winnipeg recalled forward Matt Halischuk from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Thursday.


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