Bryan Little will be out for the remainder of the season for the Winnipeg Jets because of a perforated eardrum.
The center was hit in the ear with a shot in the third period of a 2-1 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 5 and will have surgery, which has a recovery time of three months.
"The hope is this thing is going to heal at a certain rate and that's going to allow you to come back and play. That's the player's hope," coach Paul Maurice told the Jets website Saturday. "Because of the injury we're not putting this player at any risk, we're not going to wait until the very end and say, 'Yeah, you're close.' It's also in part to the procedure that he does have to have."
Little joined Jets teammates in a non-contact jersey for a few weeks. But test results weren't encouraging, and the team didn't want to rush him back.
"The smart thing for Bryan the person, Bryan the hockey player and the Winnipeg Jets is not to have him play this year."
Little, who has five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games this season, also missed the first nine games of the season after sustaining a concussion during the preseason.
Selected by the Atlanta Thrashers in the first round (No. 12) of the 2006 NHL Draft, Little ranks first in games played (843), second in goals (217) and assists (304) and third in points (521) in Jets/Thrashers history.