Winnipeg Jets’ Bryan Little remains in hospital under doctors’ care after taking a devastating puck to the head during Tuesday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
Global News confirmed through sources Little suffered a brain bleed after the errant slap shot and was put under observation by doctors in the neurological unit at Health Sciences Centre.
Jets head coach Paul Maurice said the 31-year-old forward is expected to make a full recovery.
“It’s almost like any other injury, you get through that phase where the traumatic part’s over and you see where you’re at and you go forward from there,” Maurice said Thursday, telling media Little suffered a perforated ear drum, something that’s left him dealing with vertigo.
“But he’s in good spirits …. you know, one side of his head is bigger than the other, but he’s good.”
Maurice said Little was expected to leave hospital later Thursday, but couldn’t give a timeline on how long his recovery might take.
“It’s just let the healing happen, and that’s it,” he said.
The Jets said Wednesday Little had been taken to St. Boniface hospital before being transferred to HSC.
Little was struck by a shot from teammate Nikolaj Ehlers in the third period of Tuesday’s game.
As soon as it happened it was kind of a shock,” Ehlers said.” I didn’t see exactly where it hit him, I just saw him drop down and saw him start bleeding. You could see he wasn’t feeling good. You never want to be the one to injure another player, whether it’s from them or a teammate.”
“I’ve never been in that situation before and it shook me up a little. But the guys and the coaches and the medical staff, they kind of picked me up a little.”
Winnipeg Jets’ trainers immediately took to the ice to remove Little’s helmet. Fans could see blood on the ice while Little leaned over with his hand held against his head.
The Jets said he received between 25-30 stitches near his ear to close a laceration from the hit.
“He’s doing well, I think he’s going to be alright, more importantly,” captain Blake Wheeler said. “I shot him a few texts back and forth, he seems to be in good spirits so that was good to see.”
However, after being assessed by doctors, Little was found to have bleeding in his brain.
Brain bleeds can be deadly if the tissue damage is severe, a brain injury expert told Global News.
“If you have a significant bleed that’s affecting the brain, they’re going to want to do something pretty drastic in terms of surgically releasing that pressure,” said Dr. Glen Bergeron, an athletic therapist and University of Winnipeg professor.
Bergeron noted there are many cases of boxers dying after taking blows to the head.
“If they have a bleed that’s not quite as extensive, they’re going to watch and make sure that things don’t progress further — then eventually it will resolve itself,” he said.
After dealing with the bleed and injuries, the Jets’ forward will need to be put through concussion protocol.
His injury piles on the bad news for the team.
Little has only recently returned to playing after being off for nine games after suffering a concussion earlier in the season.