Patrick Sharp's Emergency Appendectomy: 5 Ways It Alters Chicago Blackhawks Camp
Life, however, is what happens when you're busy making other plans.
Sharp got a big dose of life Monday evening when abdominal pains led to an emergency appendectomy that looks to ground him for the bulk of training camp. According to Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com, team doctor Michael Terry anticipated a full recovery for Sharp in 3-4 weeks.
At best, Sharp will miss all but the final days of camp. It's also a possibility that he may start the season in the press box.
Not the best news for a team looking to come out of the gate in better fashion than a season ago.
Sharp's absence from camp sends ripples throughout the organization. In the fallout of his surgery, we can expect the following from the Blackhawks.
1. Dave Bolland Is the Second-Line Center
The "Sharp's a wing" and "Sharp's a center" camps will have to tone it down for a while because without the option of Sharp, Bolland is going to start and finish camp as the second-line center.
Who he centers could be open for debate.
With Sharp out, the 'Hawks could pair Jonathan Toews with Marian Hossa, with Patrick Kane (assuming his is recovered from his own summer surgery) skating with the Rat.
Andrew Brunette could team with Toews and Kane, while Bolland and Hossa hold down the second line with someone who has a solid camp and earns that spot on a temporary basis.
2. Ready, Freddy?
Like Nick Leddy was when forced into service after Brian Campbell went down in camp last season, Marcus Kruger is going to find the spotlight on him to be even brighter than expected.
The third center spot is open for the time being, and it just became that much more likely that it will be filled by the young Swede. We've all heard the Bolland comparisons as the team has praised his hockey smarts. Kruger now seems to have first dibs on centering the checking line.
3. A Top-Six Spot Is Availible to Win at Camp
Viktor Stalberg just saw a flash of light open up on the first two lines.
Brunette is going to be a wing for one of the top-two lines. The other spot on the top-six is now available, at least through camp.
Stalberg, Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik will probably get the first crack at filling the void left by Sharp for as long as it takes for him to recover. For Stalberg in particular, it's a shot at proving to the organization that he can handle a top-six role.
4. Ben Smith and Other Young Guys Will Get a Longer Look
Ben Smith, like Sharp, can play at center or on the wing, so his chances of earning a job just got better. Smith may make the team regardless of Sharp's recovery, but he should welcome some additional chances to prove himself.
A kid like Brandon Pirri still isn't likely to win a job in Chicago at camp. However, as a talented center prospect along with Kruger, Pirri is going to get more ice time than he might have seen normally.
Jeremy Morin is also a player who could benefit from the increased exposure, assuming the 'Hawks are ready to put him out on the ice.
5. Bowman Will Feel the Extra Cap Money Burning a Hole in His Pocket
GM Stan Bowman squirreled away cap space, presumably to cover additional salary for a midseason trade. Will he part with any of those dollars in the next few weeks?
If the plan is to upgrade at the trade deadline, I don't believe Bowman panics and makes a big move since Sharp looks to be in the lineup without a lot of regular season games missed. He may still part with some of that cash, however.
It's not out of line to think that this latest setback with Sharp will push Bowman to find a veteran center to provide some early depth to the lineup. For the price of a minimum salary, he could bring in some insurance.
The prospect of Sharp missing all of camp is no reason for full-scale panic right now. Sharp isn't facing recovering from the knee injury that kept him out late last season, and if time is going to be missed, better the start of a season than the end of one.
It does, however, present several changes in how training camp progresses moving forward.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!