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Matiss Kivlenieks of the Columbus Blue Jackets sadly passes away

Matiss Kivlenieks

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender, Matiss Kivlenieks, passed away on Sunday night after a tragic accident.

The 24-year-old made two starts in net for the Blue Jackets this season, but was expected to be a big piece of the franchise moving forward.

The Blue Jackets released a statement on Monday morning announcing the passing, and at that time it was believed that Kivlenieks died after slipping and hitting his head. New information has come out after an autopsy was performed, and the goaltender actually died in a fireworks accident.

According to a Michigan medical examiner, Kivlenieks died after being hit in the chest with a mortar blast, and it caused serious trauma. Kivlenieks was part of a group of people that tried to escape the blast, but he was struck and paramedics were unable to revive him.

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The paramedics arrived in less than five minutes to the private home that Kivlenieks was at during the time of the accident, and he was immediately taken to the hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, and the Columbus Blue Jackets entire organization is saddened in dealing with the passing.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement after the passing: “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.” Kivlenieks was not yet a big name in the National Hockey League, but he was a force on the Latvia team.

Kivlenieks recently led his Latvia team to a massive upset win over the Canada team at the IIHF World Championship. The goaltender signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets organization in 2017 after going undrafted.

Jarmo Kekalainen, General Manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets, took to Twitter to share his condolences on the death. In a tweet, Kekalainen stated, “Life is so precious and can be so fragile. Hug your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, you will be dearly missed.”

According to the team, Kivlenieks decided to spend the summer in the United States to work on his game in hopes of winning the starting job next season. He recently made a public appearance and was beloved by members of the Blue Jackets orgnization.

Mikhail Grigorenko Heads to KHL

Earlier this weekend, the Blue Jackets announced that they were losing veteran forward Mikhail Grigorenko to the KHL. He was set to become an unrestricted free agent, but instead opted to return to the KHL where his career began.

In the announcement, it was revealed that Grigorenko agreed to a three-year deal with CSKA Moscow, and it is likely that his time in the NHL has come to an end. This past season, Grigorenko tallied four goals and 12 points while playing as a bottom-six forward.

The NHL career of Grigorenko never really panned out after he was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. He was placed on waivers by the Sabres during the COVID-19 pandemic and signed by the Blue Jackets this season.

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