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Flames Unfiltered – Episode 187 – Fathers Footsteps: Matt Vernon

Brad Burud/Kyle Lewis January 21, 2024

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Fathers Footsteps: Matt Vernon

Listen to “Flames Unfiltered – Episode 187 – Fathers Footsteps: Matt Vernon” on Spreaker.

— EPISODE 187 —

Matt Vernon, the featured guest on this episode of Flames Unfiltered, is a professional goaltender currently playing for the Jacksonville Icemen in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). He is the son of Calgary Flames legend and Hockey Hall of Famer, Mike Vernon. Matt’s journey through hockey has been marked by perseverance and achievement, including winning a Robertson Cup with the Aberdeen Wings in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and playing a brief stint at the Calgary Wranglers training camp. He also played college hockey at the prestigious Colorado College in the NCHC Division I.

Episode Summary:

In this special edition of Flames Unfiltered, hosts Brad Burud and Kyle Lewis delve into the life and career of professional goaltender Matt Vernon. The episode provides an intimate look at the experiences of an athlete who has followed in the footsteps of a legendary father while forging his own path in the competitive world of hockey.

Matt opens up about his journey, detailing the challenges he faced as a “late bloomer,” his steadfast commitment to the game despite not always being the top goaltender in his associations, and the evolution of his career through junior hockey to his current professional endeavors. The conversation touches on the impact of his father’s career, his own milestones, and aspirations for the future, both within and potentially outside the hockey world post-retirement.

Key Takeaways:

  • Matt Vernon shared his unique experience growing up as the son of Mike Vernon and opting to become a goaltender largely due to peer influence.
  • Despite a slow start, Vernon’s dedication saw him excel in junior hockey, leading to a championship and college play.
  • His journey in the ECHL has been positive, with impressive audience turnout in places like Jacksonville, reflecting the league’s growth.
  • Matt discussed his father’s approach to post-NHL life, hinting at a potential yet untapped future in an advisory or coaching role within hockey.
  • Vernon expressed a desire to potentially explore fields outside of hockey after his playing days, showcasing his multifaceted interests and practical outlook on life after sports.

Notable Quotes:

  • “It was never the best goalie in Calgary, not even the best in my association, and kind of just stuck with it.”
  • “My dad was always pressing that I use hockey to get an education, something that he didn’t really do.”
  • “It’s such an easy day job for him [his father in a hockey advisory role]. He wouldn’t have to do that much and he’s a Hall of Famer.”
  • “I was scared about how many fights there are going to be and how gritty it was. But the league has already changed so much in the last ten years.”
  • “I don’t think I’d want to get into hockey stuff, though. I got to do the same thing with my dad, pretty much just pull right out of it.”


Tune in to the full episode for an in-depth conversation with Matt Vernon on Flames Unfiltered, as he shares his unique insights and experiences from his career in professional hockey. Stay connected with the show for more episodes featuring engaging discussions with personalities from the world of hockey.

Navigating the Crease: Matt Vernon’s Journey from Legacy to Individual Triumph

In the hockey world, the legacy of an NHL goaltender casts a long shadow, especially when your father is a Stanley Cup winner and Hockey Hall of Famer. For Matt Vernon, son of Mike Vernon, the path to making his mark between the pipes offers a narrative of growth, resilience, and the allure of professional hockey. In an exclusive interview on Flames Unfiltered, Matt Vernon shares his experiences and insights, giving us a glimpse into the life of a goaltender with big skates to fill.

Key Takeaways:

  • Matt Vernon, despite his family legacy, embraced the adversities to forge his unique path in hockey.
  • His journey from a self-described lackluster start to excelling in the NAHL underscores the power of perseverance.
  • Life in the ECHL, goals beyond hockey, and the influence of Mike Vernon on Matt’s career exemplify the multifaceted life of a professional athlete.

Embracing the Legacy and Finding Personal Success

The Intersection of Legacy and Identity

Growing up with a father whose accolades include a Stanley Cup win and Hall of Fame induction, one might expect the path to hockey stardom to be predestined. For Matt Vernon, this wasn’t the case. “I never really wanted to,” Matt shared about following in his father’s footsteps. “I sucked,” he confessed about his initial foray into goaltending. Diving deep into Matt’s early experiences, it becomes clear that his journey was self-driven—motivated more by personal ambition than familial expectation.

The decision to continue in the goalie crease represented a pivotal moment where legacy intersected with personal identity. As Matt mentioned, “I kind of learned to just stick with it.” This tenacity powered his eventual rise through junior hockey and beyond. One striking revelation from Vernon’s recollections is the importance of self-discovery in sports. It’s a theme not only relatable to athletes but also to anyone carving a niche in their respective fields.

The Benefits of Being a “Late Bloomer”

Discussing his career trajectory, Matt unveiled the label often ascribed to him within hockey circles: a late bloomer. From not being “the best goalie in Calgary” to a game-changing stint with the Aberdeen Wings, where he clinched the Robertson Cup, his journey is a testament to the rewards of patience and hard work. Matt’s experience dismantles the prevalent notion that early success is a prerequisite for professional accomplishments.

This theme holds a broader significance as it challenges the often merciless pacing of sports development programs. The rise of late bloomers like Matt Vernon suggests that talent can flourish at varying intervals and underscores the need for systems that nurture potential beyond the widely accepted age brackets.

Life in the ECHL and the Potential After Hockey

Pros and Perils of Playing in the ECHL

In the dynamic world of the ECHL, Matt’s narrative takes an intriguing turn. He highlights the competitiveness of the league, where NHL-contracted talent frequently makes an appearance. “There’s always going to be good players here,” Matt observes, giving credence to the league’s growing reputation. The conversation with Brad Burud and Kyle Lewis also sheds light on the challenges of the league, from financial constraints to the physical toll on players.

Understanding the multifaceted nature of the ECHL experience provides valuable insight into the realities faced by athletes who are often perceived as merely “playing a game.” Vernon brings to light the dedication and sacrifice inherent in this profession, elements not easily discerned by spectators.

Mapping Out a Future Beyond the Ice

As Vernon candidly discusses possible post-hockey paths ranging from real estate to investment banking, he reveals a universal theme: the constant pursuit of growth and preparation for life after one’s initial passion. His openness about exploring various potential routes, including those unrelated to hockey, speaks volumes about the proactive mindset needed to navigate transitions in life.

Matt’s perspective encourages athletes and individuals in all professions to think multidimensionally about their careers. The forward-thinking approach and recognition that a career in sports is finite—and often unpredictable—highlight the importance of resilience and adaptability, qualities essential for long-term success.

A Legacy Lived, A Future Forged

Matt Vernon’s revelations throughout the interview paint a deeply personal picture of the trials and tribulations of a goaltender coming into his own. His journey, exemplified by both grit and goal-tending prowess, is punctuated by candid self-assessments and a clear vision for the future.

The influences shaping Matt’s experience—his father’s legacy, embracing the struggle as a late bloomer, the intensity of playing professionally, and his broad vision for life beyond the crease—coalesce into a narrative rich with insights. The underlying message is universal: from the echoes of a celebrated legacy emerges an individual forging a path defined by passion, perseverance, and the foresight to embrace what lies ahead.



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Brad Burud/Kyle Lewis

Flames Unfiltered features two passionate and opinionated hosts. Brad Burud has been with the show since the beginning and was the creator of the show. A Flames fan since 1986 he brings the old school approach to the show. As a Theoren Fleury and Mikka Kiprusoff fan he longs for the playoff runs he watched decades ago. Kyle Lewis joined the show for the start of season four. A Flames fan since the 90’s, Kyle is a huge collector of Calgary game-worn jerseys. Jarome Iginla was the hero for the Flames when Kyle started this journey and Iginla will always be a favorite. Kyle hopes this year’s version of the Flames can bring him the happiness he felt when Gelinas scored the overtime game winner over Detroit. Thanks for joining us. Sit back and enjoy some Flames hockey talk.

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