Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos wouldn't have played Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final if it was up to Don Cherry.
The popular hockey commentator was adamant that Stamkos, who appeared in Thursday's game for the first time this post-season after suffering a blood clot in March that required surgery, wasn't ready to play.
"There's no way Stamkos should be playing as far as I'm concerned," Cherry said on his Coach's Corner segment during the first intermission of the game between the Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins. "First of all, if he's good enough to play why wasn't he two days ago (for Game 6)? ... You don't fool around with stuff like that."
"I don't think he should be playing," Cherry added. "I don't care how important the Stanley Cup is."
Stamkos last played on March 31 before undergoing surgery on April 4 to treat the clot near his right collarbone.
He has skated with his teammates in practice the last few weeks but was waiting to be cleared by doctors because he is taking blood thinners as part of his post-surgical protocol.
Stamkos played 4:31 in the first period on the third line between Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
"He's not going to play (many minutes)," Cherry said. "He's out there, he's giving them inspiration."
The 26-year-old Stamkos has 15 goals and 20 assists in 48 career playoff games. He posted 36 goals and 28 assists during the regular season for the Lightning.
— With files from The Associated Press