Bryan Little last suited up for the Jets back on November 5th when the Devils were in Winnipeg. It has been a long road back to health and he has been joining his Jets teammates on the ice for practice wearing a yellow non-contact jersey. Today following practice at Bell MTS Place coach Paul Maurice was asked for a status update on his veteran centre.
Asked if there was anything new:
“No. They’ll be a test here in the next few days and we’ll go from there. This one doesn’t have the markers of a normal injury where you’re saying we’re going to give it this much time. Usually you get a window. Four to six is the number I’ve heard a 1000 times this year. But this one there isn’t a window on this. So even if he passes all of these tests he is still going to have to get through feeling really comfortable on the ice. It was described to me, this isn’t a concussion issue, this is more like a car accident. This is like a trauma issue. So he’s got to get cleared. You get the normal concussion, the guy gets cleared to play, he gets a couple of good days in, everybody’s happy, we’ve done all the details and he goes back in the lineup. This one he’s going to have to get into full practices, full on heavy, which will be a challenge in our schedule. A full on 45/50 minute. He’s going to have to stack a bunch of those together so that at the end of it it’s going to be about Bryan Little feeling comfortable and feeling right on the ice. We will at some point totally have to rely on his perception out there of how he is feeling.”
On need for Little being comfortable before he gets back on the ice:
“It’s not like he took a hit. He got hit in the head with a puck. I guess the way I would describe it, you don’t fully appreciate how fast things happen down at ice level until you’re right there. I have always been amazed there aren’t more players who get hit in the face with the puck. With the number of pucks that go to the net, they’re tipped. A lot of them they miss because they pick that reaction up, they just move in time, it’s all instinct down there. What we’re looking for from a player who has been is to get back to playing in terms of instinct. It’s happening fast, you’re reacting at the right pace, so everything is right. And you feel it. You talk to these guys when they’re out a long time, like even Beau last night he said it was fast last night. This is a guy whose head’s fine. He had a broken bone that he was dealing with. But even for that, a guy whose processing everything said man the game happened real fast last night. This kind of injury, and this isn’t a normal concussion kind of thing, this is a trauma issue. We have to wait till he has that exact feeling on the ice that things aren’t happening that fast. Practice over and over cause that he’s comfortable cause we need him to come back into the lineup fully relaxed and confident that he’s at speed.”
Which all adds up to still no timeline regarding a return for the veteran centre.