On July 4th, former Cleveland Monsters and recent Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks passed away unexpectedly at a party in Novi, Michigan, allegedly at the home of Blue Jackets goalie coach Manny Legace. Kivlenieks’ cause of death had been a media jumble earlier today with various outlets stating things such as a car crash, head injury from a fall and what the medical examiner has ultimately confirmed, chest trauma from a firework. According to Claire Fahy of the New York Times, “One of the mortar elements tipped toward a hot tub, where multiple people were sitting. They tried to get out of the hot tub, but Mr. Kivlenieks was hit.”
Kivlenieks had been with the Blue Jackets’ organization since playing in net for the Cleveland Monsters in the 2017-2018 season. He was eventually called up to the Jackets on several occasions during the shortened 2019-2020 covid season where he notched his first NHL victory against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 19th, 2020. The 24-year old Latvian was even rumored to be a potential pick of the new Seattle Kraken in this summer’s NHL expansion draft as Columbus looked to protect the more seasoned Joonas Korpisalo on their roster.
Thoughts of well wishes and condolences have poured in from around the league throughout the day including Blue Jackets GM, Jarmo Kekalainen, “Life is so precious and can be so fragile. Hug your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, you will be dearly missed.