Matiss Kivlenieks
Aaron Doster – USA Today Sports

Matiss Kivlenieks Tragically Passes Away At 24 Years Old

Blue Jackets Goalie Matiss Kivlenieks passed away last night at 24 years of age. This is a rare but shocking tragedy and is one that is hard to process. A malfunction with fireworks during a Fourth of July celebration caused projectiles to be fired at people. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub when this occurred and lept out, but police reports indicate that the goalie slipped and fell, hitting his head on concrete. Emergency services reached the house in Novi, Michigan at 10:13 PM where they rushed Kivlenieks to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The news sent shockwaves across the NHL and former Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno weighed in on the horrible news.

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 cliché, 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.

Nick Foligno via Emily Kaplan, ESPN

The Latvian Goalie joined Columbus in 2017 as an undrafted free agent and clearly had a great work ethic. Kivlenieks worked his way up the organization until he debuted in the NHL on January 19, 2020, where he stopped 31 of 32 shots at Madison Square Garden and helped defeat the New York Rangers 2-1. Blue Jackets GM Jaro Kekalainen also weighed in on Twitter, calling life “so precious and so fragile.” Everyone here at Vendetta is sending our condolences to the Kivlenieks family during this incredibly difficult time.

UPDATE: An autopsy report from earlier today concluded that Kivlenieks died due to chest trauma from the fireworks explosion. This conflicts with reports from the authorities that he fell and hit his head on concrete. Regardless, it still seems like a tragic accident that took the life of Kivlenieks. It is incredibly shocking and unfortunate that the Blue Jackets and NHL communities have to see news like this with such a busy offseason ahead of them.

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