It's been a very difficult last 24 hours, to say the least.
In the early morning of July 5th, the world learned of the tragedy that had befallen Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks on the night of July 4th. He had passed away after an errant firework struck him in the chest.
It was a shock for everyone, and it's still tough to process. The Blue Jackets' community is strong, and they came together in three great ways to honor Kivlenieks as a hockey player, and as a man. Fans set up a memorial outside Nationwide Arena, bringing flowers, messages of love and remembrance, and hockey sticks.
Then, on the evening of July 5th, fans gathered at R Bar in the Arena District to pay respects and remember Kivlenieks as they watched Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Former Blue Jacket Josh Anderson scored twice, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Canadiens pushed the series to a Game 5 with a 3-2 win.
According to Angela Reighard of Channel 10 News, R Bar wasn't supposed to be open yesterday. "However, once news spread of Matiss Kivlenieks’ death, (the owners) wanted to give Blue Jackets fans a place to mourn," wrote Reighard on Twitter.
All day yesterday, as well as today, people across the world on Twitter have been using the hashtag #SticksOutForKivi to remember the Latvian netminder. Users accompany the hashtag with a picture of one or more hockey sticks outside their front door as the world mourns Kivlenieks.
Rest In Peace Kivi. You were one of the nicest people Ive met through this great game. Well all miss the energy and love for life that you possessed. My prayers go out to your family, hopefully they will see the impact you had on everyone who knew you #SticksOutForKivi pic.twitter.com/4YOA6VGusn— Scott Harrington (@S_Harrington06) July 5, 2021
Quotes From Around the World
Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations, John Davidson: "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. 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."
Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman: "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.”
Blue Jackets Winger, Gustav Nyquist: "Rest In Peace Kivi. Sending my deepest condolences to your family, friends and everyone in the Blue Jackets organization. You were a great teammate with a bright future. I will never forget the smile you brought to the rink every single day. You will be deeply missed."
Former Blue Jackets Captain, Nick Foligno: "Seeing all the beautiful tributes to Matiss only further cements what kind of person he was! What a tragic loss for all of us who knew him and I am thinking and praying for his family. Heaven gained a darn good goalie and better person...Just, way too soon. RIP Kivi!"
Former Blue Jackets Coach, John Tortorella: “Such a nice kid who showed up to work with that innocent eagerness to excel in his game and be the best teammate. This hurts. He was working so hard and was on the path of becoming an NHLer. More importantly, he was just starting his life. So tragic.”
Former Blue Jackets Defenseman, David Savard: "That was a brutal wake up this morning. He was a good kid with a lot of talent who was going to be a part of the team next year or in the future. It's extremely sad."