Columbus Blue Jackets' goalie death has far-reaching effects
By MITCH STACY
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Matiss Kivlenieks was with teammate and close friend Elvis Merzlikins in Michigan for the wedding of the daughter of Columbus Blue Jackets’ goaltender coach Manny Legace and a Fourth of July celebration.
The festive weekend ended in tragedy Sunday night when the 24-year-old goaltender from Latvia, who was spending the summer in the United States, was killed in a freak fireworks accident at Legace’s house in the Detroit suburb of Novi.
Now the organization for which he played since his professional career began in 2017 is in mourning, working with his family in Latvia to arrange memorial services and making mental health counselors available for those who need it, said John Davidson, the Blue Jackets’ president of hockey operations.
“This has far-reaching effects,” Davidson said Wednesday. “This was Manny’s daughter’s wedding, and all those people were there and this tragedy happened. We’ve got to deal with it, we’ve got to deal with it in the right way, which I’m very confident we are.”
Kivlenieks was fatally injured when a he was hit in the chest with an errant firework while trying to get out of a hot tub, police said. A mortar tube tipped and angled toward Kivlenieks, who had been in the hot tub near a swimming pool.
The investigation is still being conducted and police have not yet issued a report or said who was in charge of setting off the fireworks. A coroner ruled that Kivlenieks’ death resulted from the blast.