Bracken Kearns has been kicking around the AHL and ECHL since 2005, outside of a 5-game cup of coffee with the Florida Panthers last season.
The winger played 50 games for the Worcester Sharks this season, scoring 30 points. His offense and tenacious style were enough to earn him a call-up to the San Jose Sharks for Tuesday night’s game – and is it every going to be a surreal moment for the 31 year old.
Consider this: He’ll be replacing Marty Havlat in the Sharks’ lineup, literally. Kearns will skate with Joe Thornton and Logan Couture on San Jose’s top line against the Vancouver Canucks. Because career minor leaguers always line up next to top young snipers and centers with 1,100 points, right?
Consider this: Kearns to debuting for the Sharks in his hometown of Vancouver, B.C.
Consider this: His father is Dennis Kearns, a defenseman who played 667 games with these very Canucks from 1971-1981, the year Bracken Kearns was born.
So dad will be in the house for this amazing night, right?
No. Because it would have cost him $500.
“He called me yesterday, he’s hoping to play tomorrow,” said Dennis, 67, who’s in Southern California on a golfing holiday with wife Lynn.
“I tried to change my flight and one-way was $500 so I said forget it. I would have gone otherwise.”
When Bracken made his NHL debut on Oct. 20, 2011, with Florida. Dennis also missed the game and he has yet to see his son play an NHL game in person. “One stint was early (in the season) and the next was Dec. 1 and my wife and I were just moving into a new house so we couldn’t go,” said Dennis, who joined the Canucks in their sophomore season in the NHL (1971-72) and played 10 seasons.
Bracken Kearns said he understands his father’s decision – and that his dad did manage to make the night special in another regard.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit,” Bracken said. “I actually just heard that a couple minutes ago and had a good chuckle with that one. He’d probably be a nervous wreck.”
But Dennis did come through in another way, landing the Canucks alumni box for tonight’s game, and that’ll be filled with the Shark forward’s two brothers, nephew, father-in-law and others on hand. Kearns still calls the Vancouver area home, and plenty of his friends will be in Rogers Arena, too.
“A lot of my buddies come to the games anyway regularly so they were able to scrounge up tickets,” Bracken said. “I haven’t been too harassed.”
Hopefully Kearns is able to stick with the Sharks long enough for his father to watch him play, even if it’s not back in Dennis Kearns’ old stomping grounds.