Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman called Marian Hossa's right rotator cuff injury "relatively minor" on Wednesday but admitted surgery remains a possibility.
"If it's something that needs to be fixed, that would be the way to go," Bowman said. "Surgery would be a last resort and we're not at that point, but if we have to do it, we have to do it."
In confirming the injury first reported by the Daily Herald late Tuesday, Bowman said Hossa has been sent to Minnesota to do his rehab work with a specialist.
"We're watching him and monitoring him," Bowman said. "Hopefully he's like a lot of other guys and he rehabs it and he's good to go.
"He could play with it. What we've got to determine is what's best for the long term. It's one of those things that can go either way."
In an interesting twist to the story on Wednesday, Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland told Booth Newspapers that Hossa didn't hurt his shoulder in the playoffs, which has been reported. According to Hollan, it was an old injury.
"He was hurt before he got to us," said Holland, who signed Hossa as a free agent in the summer of 2008. "Our doctors looked at him and we had conversations about whether to have surgery.
"Our doctors recommended he should have something done at some point, but it's something he can play with."
Hossa appeared in 74 games with the Red Wings last season and scored 40 goals.
Bowman said Hossa didn't remember exactly when he hurt his shoulder but thought it was in the playoffs.
"It started bothering him at some point in the playoffs," Bowman said. "He can't even pinpoint it, but it didn't stop him from playing."
Bowman wasn't prepared to say Hossa's rotator cuff was torn, but there are varying degrees of tears.
"If it is a tear, it would be a minor one," Bowman said. "If we had a game he certainly could play. It's just a matter of how to handle this."
Should Hossa need surgery he could be back at some point early in the season, perhaps by December depending on when the operation was performed.
"It wouldn't be the season, no," Bowman said. "It would be a few months. It's a relatively minor injury."
Bowman said there was no timetable for deciding if surgery is needed. Hossa and doctors would make that decision.
"We're not going to string it out just to string it out," Bowman said. "We're not at the point where we need to determine that, but it would be soon.
"You can't wait forever, but you also have to give the rehab a chance."
The Hawks were aware of Hossa's shoulder issue when they signed him to a 12-year, $62.8 million contract on July 1, the richest deal in franchise history.
Hossa suffered the injury at some point during the Stanley Cup playoffs while playing for the Detroit Red Wings.
"We were aware of it," Bowman said. "It was not something we were surprised about. We were aware from the minute that we started negotiating with his agent that he had a sore shoulder. We were comfortable with it. It's not a major injury. They were open with us about it."
While the Hawks are hoping Hossa can start the season on Oct. 2 against the Florida Panthers in Finland, his long-term health is the main issue.
"He's a guy we wanted and we're very comfortable with him," Bowman said. "This is a minor injury and we made a 12-year commitment to a guy who has been a star player. We definitely wanted him as a Blackhawk."
Bowman said the possibility of starting the season without Hossa wouldn't change how he sees the Hawks' roster shaping up for training camp.
"We're not going to make any moves," Bowman said. "We've got 14 forwards who are going to compete for jobs, and that's not even counting guys like Jack Skille, Akim Aliu and Kyle Beach. Forward is really a strong suit for us."