CHICAGO -- There's never a good time to have an appendectomy, but the Chicago Blackhawks do feel a little fortunate star forward Patrick Sharp had one before the start of training camp.
Sharp, 29, is recovering from an emergency appendectomy on Monday night, after he showed up to a charity golf outing that morning and started to feel ill. The team doctor estimated Sharp will be out three-to-four weeks, which would mean missing the most -- if not all -- of the pre-season and training camp.
A fixture in Chicago's top six forwards, Sharp could potentially return for the season opener Oct.7 in Dallas but no set timeline has been established. The Hawks are just glad the outcome was positive.
"Those things are part of sports," said Hawks general manager Stan Bowman, who spoke with Sharp at the golf outing just a few minutes before learning he needed to be checked out by a doctor. "It's too early predict the timing (of a return). They say three-to-four weeks and we'll see how it goes. It's better to get it out of the way now. I wouldn't say it impacts our training camp or the season. In the scheme of things it's minor."
Sharp is coming off a career year in which he potted 34 goals and 71 points in 74 games despite missing a couple of weeks at the end of the season with a sprained knee. That injury, according to Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, proved Sharp's toughness and ability to play through pain.
He returned early from the knee injury to finish off the regular season and help the Hawks take the rival Vancouver Canucks to seven games after losing the first three contests in the first-round series. This time, there is no need for Sharp to rush back.
The Hawks front office and coaches want him to make sure he's 100 percent ready, considering how big of a role he will have once again -- likely spending time at both wing and center and playing a key role on the top power-play unit.
"[Sharp] was in excellent shape," Quenneville said. "He's a finely-tuned athlete and can play through a lot of different injuries. We saw that last year, particularly in a critical time of the year. I'm sure we're going to give him the necessary time for this injury, but at the same time, once he's ready to go he'll be a big part of our team."
The Hawks officially open camp Saturday with their annual Training Camp Festival, an event that's open to fans and is sold out. Sharp obviously won't be participating, but was spotted Friday at the United Center walking gingerly while teammates went through a battery of fitness tests.
"I saw him [Thursday] night and he looked alright," Quenneville said. "I think he's targeting right around the start of the year, so he should be fine."