Fantasy Hockey

Kivlenieks dies at 24, was Blue Jackets goalkeeper


The Blue Jackets have said Kivlenieks’ death was the result of an accident.

“We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Matiss Kivlenieks, and we offer our deepest condolences to his mother, Astrida, family and friends during this devastating time,” said Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson. . “‘Kivi’ was an exceptional young man who greeted everyone and every day with a smile, and the impact he had during his four years with our organization will not be forgotten.”

Kivlenieks was 1-1-0 with a 3.40 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in two games with Columbus this season, and 2-2-2 with a 3.09 GAA. and a .899 save percentage in eight NHL games (six starts) the past two seasons.

“The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “On behalf of the NHL family, we offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends and teammates both in the Blue Jackets organization and in his homeland of Latvia. His love for life and his passion for the sport will be deeply missed by all who were fortunate enough to have him as a teammate and friend. “

NHL Players‘ Association General Manager Don Fehr said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Matiss Kivlenieks at the age of just 24 years old. His passion and dynamism allowed him to reach the highest level of hockey, which earned him his last game in the NHL. May 8 with Columbus and representing Latvia at the recent World Championship. Our condolences go out to Matiss’ family, friends and teammates during this difficult time. He will be missed by all who knew him. “

David Savard, who was Kivlenieks’ teammate with the Blue Jackets until he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 10, said he learned of the goalie’s death in a text Monday morning.

“We played together for a long time,” said the defender. “It’s extremely sad news. He’s a guy who was close to the team, he traveled with the team all year round. It was a rude awakening this morning. He was a good kid with it. a lot of talent that was going to be a part of the squad next year or in the future. It’s extremely sad. “

Savard said the text came from the former Blue Jackets captain Nick foligno, who was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 11.

“Seeing all the beautiful tributes to Matiss only further cement the kind of person he was!” Foligno wrote on his Twitter account. “What a tragic loss for all of us who knew him, and I think and pray for his family. Heaven has won a damn good Guardian and a better person.… Far too soon.”

Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito was assistant general manager for the Blue Jackets when Kivlenieks signed as an undrafted free agent on May 25, 2017.

“My heart is aching to learn of Matiss’ passing this morning,” Zito said. “Our Panthers family joins the NHL in sending our sincere condolences to their family, teammates and the Blue Jackets family during this incredibly difficult time. “

Kivlenieks played for Latvia at the 2021 IIHF World Championships and went 1-1-2 with a 2.18 GAA, .922 save percentage and one shutout in four games.

“Life is so precious and can be so fragile,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a tweet. “Kiss your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, you will be sorely missed.”