Original Jet Little forced to hang them up


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He is one of the classiest, most-respected players with the Winnipeg Jets, an original member of the franchise who came over from Atlanta nine years ago.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/10/2020 (904 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

He is one of the classiest, most-respected players with the Winnipeg Jets, an original member of the franchise who came over from Atlanta nine years ago.

And sadly, his career is likely over.

Veteran centre Bryan Little will not return to the ice for the 2020-21 NHL season on the advice of doctors who recently consulted with him, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff revealed Friday.

“What that means to the future (beyond next season), that will be addressed at the appropriate times,” said Cheveldayoff.

Little, 32, was felled by friendly fire in a game last November, suffering devastating head and ear injuries from teammate Nikolaj Ehlers’ wayward slapshot.

He was hospitalized with a brain bleed, and suffered a ruptured ear drum and numerous other side effects including vertigo.

It came just seven games into Little’s return from a concussion, and just days after he scored the overtime winner in the Heritage Classic game in Regina.

The writing seemed to be on the wall earlier Friday when the Jets reacquired centre Paul Stastny in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Jets likely wouldn’t have taken on his US$6.5-million cap hit if Little, who makes US$5.2 million annually through 2023-24, was a candidate to return.

“Certainly we wanted to be extremely respectful on how all this was handled and give him as much opportunity to seek opinions and doctors and tests. We wanted to be obviously ultra-cautious with him with a head injury of that magnitude and obviously that it’s taking this long, you owe that to him,” said Cheveldayoff.

“He’s a special person and has been part of our family, came over from Atlanta, really planted roots here in Winnipeg when it came time to re-sign and just loves the city and loves being part of this organization.”

Little, the 12th overall pick in the 2006 draft, has played 843 regular-season games with the franchise, with 217 goals and 304 assists.

The Jets are expected to place Little on long-term injured reserve at the start of next season, which would allow them to spend the equivalent of his salary beyond the US$81.5-million cap limit if necessary.

Little would still be paid the remaining four years of his contract through insurance.

“It’s emotional. When you have conversations like we had with him the other day, you feel for him because he wants to play. He wants to play badly. But he has to make sure he puts his family and his health ahead of everything and we fully support him 100 per cent,” said Cheveldayoff.


Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.


Updated on Friday, October 9, 2020 11:34 PM CDT: Adds photo

Updated on Friday, October 9, 2020 11:41 PM CDT: Updates headline

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