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Is there any value in Bryan Little returning before the end of the season?

Discussing the merits of a possible return of #18 this year.

As fans around here know Bryan Little has been out of the Jets lineup since an Anton Stralman hit in Tampa back on February 18th.  The team returned to Winnipeg and there was some initial thought that he could join the Jets on their next road trip that week although coach Maurice did acknowledge that some red flags were raised during testing.  One week after sustaining the injury coach Maurice announced that Bryan Little had suffered a compression fracture of his T6 vertebrae and was out for the season.  The Jets bench boss said on February 25th “….he will be out for the remainder of the regular season.  We think it is an eight week injury.”

Little down and out

Fast forward about a month later and we have Bryan Little back on the ice at the MTS Centre first in an orange non-contact jersey, which was subsequently upgraded to a yellow light contact jersey and is now a regular jersey as of March 30th when he took part in a game day skate.  When coach Maurice was asked about Little’s status he indicated “Back on the ice, full contact today, but it’s a light contact day for him.  Healing is going very, very well.  He will continue on that and then its going to be the doctors call but the line on that one is 100% and not shorter.  We want him to build the strength in a hockey environment to help the healing process and reconditioning process.  I don’t know is the best answer for you whether I put him in the lineup but if he’s at 100% healthy and he wants to play and he feels he needs it for a bit of confidence to get back in the lineup we will take a really hard look at it.”.

The Jets weren’t on the ice on Thursday but Bryan Little was back on the ice on Friday and coach Maurice was asked what value there was to be gained from getting Little into one of the remaining games for the Jets “the easiest thing to do is just say we will see you in September.  But if he, and through experience with these kinds of players, if they really feel they need that game and the doctors are saying there is no reason he can’t play and we feel his conditioning is good, that would be the reason and the only reason, is that he really felt he needed it to kind of put it to rest.  And we will take that idea seriously and we will spend time talking about that and weighing it.  But he will not be going back into that game if there is even a remote question that he is not at the level that he needs to be at.”.

The Jets have a final home game on Sunday and then they play their last three games of the 2015-16 season on the road in California.

The team hit the ice again today and following skate the topic of Little came up and it appears the Jets bench boss isn’t seeing as strong a value in playing #18 in the team’s remaining contests telling reporters “I’m really on the other side of this argument.  I don’t see the need for him so the convincing would have to be very strong to make me think it makes sense.”.  Even if Maurice was convinced it has to go through the doctors and trainers before it gets to him and there doesn’t appear to be enough time in the season to accomplish all of these tasks.

And that begs the question as to whether there is any value in having the Jets centre return before the end of this year?  Bryan Little was having himself a nice season prior to the injury with 17 goals and 25 assists in the Jets first 57 games.  It would appear to make little sense to rush a seasoned veteran back just to get him into a few meaningless games.  He will have the entire summer and then training camp to get back into regular form and for someone with his NHL experience that shouldn’t be too tall an order.

Bryan Little heads up ice

What do you think?  Should the Jets get Little into a game provided the doctors say he is 100%?  Or should he stay on the shelf until the puck drops on the 2016-17 season?