Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks 24, died on Sunday night after a
mortar firework tilted and shot towards him and other people
Kivlenieks’ death was announced by the Blue Jackets and Latvian Hockey federation
on Monday morning. The NHL team noted that Kivlenieks died of an apparent head
injury from a fall but did not mention fireworks.
Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson in a statement said that
the team is ‘shocked and saddened’ by Kivlenieks’ death.
‘We extend our deepest sympathies to his mother, Astrida, his family, and friends
during this devastating time,’ Davidson stated. ‘Kivi was an outstanding young man
who greeted every day and everyone with a smile and the impact he had during his
four years with our organization will not be forgotten.’
Kivlenieks started for the Blue Jackets in two games last season and previously played
for Latvia, his home country, in the IIHF World Championships. He played in eight
NHL games in his career. Kivlenieks was undrafted and signed with the Blue Jackets
in 2017 as a free agent.
He hit the ice for his first NHL game in January 2020 at Madison Square Garden
against the New York Rangers and stopped 31 of 32 shots at the goal post.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement that Kivlenieks ‘love for life
and passion for the game will be deeply missed by all those who have been fortunate
to have him as a teammate and a friend.
Novi Police Department Lieutenant Jason Meier said It’s still an active investigation,
but we’re treating it as a tragic accident.