Remembering Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks

We have been dealt some tragic news today after learning that Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks has died.

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced today that Matiss Kivlenieks died after suffering an apparent head injury in a fall. He was just 24 years-old.

Columbus is calling it a “tragic accident” and Lt. Jason Meier of the Novi Police Department in Michigan said that Kivlenieks attempted to flee a hot tub after a mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby.

Meier said that Kivlenieks fled the hot tub along with several other people but slipped and hit his head on concrete.

Update: Matiss Kivlenieks is ruled to have died from “chest trauma” caused by a firework blast, per the coroner’s office in Oakland County, Michigan. 

The fire department and EMTs got to the private home at about 10:13 p.m. on Sunday night and took him to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have today released the following statement:

“We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Matiss Kivlenieks, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his mother, Astrida, his family and friends during this devastating time,” Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson said. “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.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also paid his respects in a statement released by the league:

“The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks. On behalf of the NHL family, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates in both the Blue Jackets organization and his native country of Latvia. His 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.”

Kivlenieks signed with the Blue Jackets as an Undrafted Free Agent in 2017, making his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Jan. 19, 2020, stopping 31 of 32 shots in a 2-1 win.

He was 1-1-0 with a 3.40 Goals Against Average and a .901 Save Percentage in two games with Columbus this season, and 2-2-2 with a 3.09 GAA and a .899 SV in eight career NHL games over the past two seasons.

Kivlenieks had recently re-signed with the Blue Jackets on a two-year deal and was on his way to becoming a full-time starting netminder in the NHL, while he recently represented Latvia at the World Hockey Championship, pitching a shutout in a 2-0 win over Team Canada in the opening game.

Nick Foligno, the former Captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets, paid tribute to Kivlenieks in a text to Emily Kaplan of ESPN:

“One thing I loved and appreciated about him was he had a great smile and always was in a good mood. I know it’s cliche, but that’s exactly the kind of guy he was. Just enjoying his life as a 24-year-old living out his dream and you could tell he didn’t take one day for granted, which makes this tragedy even more hard to bear. Praying for his family and all of us who knew him. Hard day for a lot of people in that organization.”

This is an incredibly sad and tragic day for the hockey world, and everyone at Puck Prose send their thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Matiss Kivlenieks, and the entire Columbus Blue Jackets organization.

RIP.