Matiss Kivlenieks, a goalie for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, is dead at 24 after what has been described as a “tragic accident.”
The Blue Jackets confirmed Kivlenieks’s death on Monday morning. Medical personnel immediately attended to Kivleniek but he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
It was initially reported that Kivlenieks died from a head injury with speculation that he may have slipped and hit his head on concrete while fleeing a hot tub and errant fireworks. However, the Associated Press is reporting Kivlenieks died of chest trauma due to a fireworks mortar blast.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
It’s with a very heavy heart that we share the news that goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks passed away last night at the age of 24.
We are heartbroken. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) July 5, 2021
“The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement Monday. “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 a free agent in 2017. He made his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden, helping Columbus score a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers with 31 saves on 32 shots.
Our deepest condolences go out to Kivlenieks’s family and friends during this incredibly difficult and tragic time.