On a day of exciting news all around the league, this comes as quite the depressing story. Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has told reporters that Bryan Little has been instructed by doctors not to play this season. While Cheveldayoff did not comment on whether that means Little’s career is over, it doesn’t bode well for the veteran forward.
Little, 32, played just seven games in 2019-20. On November 5th, 2019, he was struck in the side of the head by a Nikolaj Ehlers slapshot and skated off the ice while holding a bloody towel to his head. Little had already dealt with a concussion earlier that year, but that game against the New Jersey Devils ended up being his last.
Not only was Little a consistent performer on the ice that had spent his entire career with the Jets/Thrashers organization, but he was a beloved teammate and a tireless worker in the community. That dedication to the organization was mentioned by Cheveldayoff today, when he called Little a “special person.”
If it is the end for Little, he’ll leave the league with 521 points in 843 career games, all for the one organization. He is still signed for four more seasons, so his contract will be moved to long-term injured reserve, making it technically possible for a return, but obviously, that’s a decision that won’t be made for some time.
The Jets meanwhile will get some cap relief from moving Little’s $5.3MM hit to LTIR, but they’d rather have the player back. It does help them fit in the recently acquired Paul Stastny, who slots in at on their second-line, a role that Little has occupied in the past.