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Bracken Kearns, 30, Makes NHL Debut for Florida Panthers

KearnsWith Shawn Matthias and Sean Bergenheim out, the Panthers recalled forwards Tim Kennedy and Bracken Kearns from their AHL affiliate in San Antonio.

Kearns made his NHL debut on Thursday, becoming only the second 30-or-older player to make their NHL debut with the Panthers. Magnus Svensson was 32 when he made his debut back in 1995. 

Kearns has spent the past seven seasons toiling in the minor leagues. On Wednesday, Dennis Kearns – Bracken's father, who played with Florida GM Dale DenniskearnsTallon in the early days of the Vancouver Canucks – texted birthday greetings to Tallon. 

Tallon responded that Bracken had a strong camp, and with three goals in three games with San Antonio, would be called up eventually. Thursday, Bracken Kearns got the call he's been waiting on for a long, long time.

“Unbeknownst to me, we needed a couple guys so here he is. It's kind of cool,'' Tallon said. “He's been waiting a long time.

"This is no gift, though. He earned this. He's a usable player and a good kid.''

Saturday's game at Houston game was Kearns' 429th in the minors; Kearns has played for seven different teams since leaving the University of Calgary in 2005.

Kearns said he was warming up soup in his kitchen when he got the call from Rampage coach Chuck Weber.

He had 45 minutes to make his flight and it landed just after 6 p.m. in Fort Lauderdale. Fun drive on 595 at that time of day, eh?

Kearns was late to the warm up but made it into the game.

After getting on the ice late, Kearns said he was too busy to be nervous about his debut.