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Chicago's Sharp faces fitness race after surgery

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp underwent a surgical appendectomy on Monday and could miss the start of the National Hockey League (NHL) season, the team said on Monday.

Blackhawks head physician Dr Michael Terry said Sharp, the team's alternate captain, had the procedure after experiencing some abnormal abdominal discomfort.

"The surgery was successful and I anticipate a full recovery in approximately three to four weeks," Terry said in a statement issued by the Blackhawks.

Should Sharp require a full four weeks to recover he would miss the team's first two games of the 2011-12 season and return for Chicago's October 13 game against Winnipeg.

The NHL season starts on October 6.

The 29-year-old All-Star, who signed a five-year contract extension last month, was eighth in NHL scoring last season with 34 goals while adding 37 assists for a career-high 71 points in 74 regular-season games.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto)