Blue Jackets goaltender and Latvia native Matiss Kivlenieks passed away last night after being hit with a stray firework in the chest. Kivlenieks was only 24.
The freak incident occurred in Novi, Michigan. Novi police say that Kivlenieks was “fleeing a hot tub” as a result of a fireworks malfunction.
“While exiting the hot tub, (Kivlenieks) slipped and fell and hit his head on the concrete,” said police lieutenant Jason Meier.
Kivlenieks was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
"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," said Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson in a press release. "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."
The Blue Jackets signed Kivlenieks as a free agent in 2017, and he made eight appearances at the NHL level with Columbus. None were better than his NHL debut, when he faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Kivlenieks stopped 31 of 32 shots as the Blue Jackets won, 2-1.
"The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks,” said Commissioner Gary Bettman in a press release. “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.”
May he rest in peace.