The NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets have confirmed that goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, 24, passed away following a tragic accident on Sunday, July 4.
According to the New York Post and a statement from Michigan police, Kivlenieks was at a party at the time of the injury that resulted in his death. After a fireworks malfunction, the goalie — along with a few others — was attempting to jump from some distance into a hot tub, but slipped and fell, fatally hitting his head on the concrete.
Medical personnel were called immediately, but the injuries were too severe, and Kivlenieks was pronounced dead on scene.
Blue Jackets president John Davidson and the National Hockey League have both released statements honoring Kivlenieks — or "Kivi" as his teammates affectionately called him — and mourning the loss of the 24-year-old hockey player.
Davidson's statement began, "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."
He went on, "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."
The team's General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen also offered his condolences via Twitter, noting that life is "precious" and "fragile", and saying that the young player will be "dearly missed".
The talented Latvian was a Blue Jackets free agent from 2017, and finally made his professional NHL debut in early 2020. According to stats in the New Yorker, Kivlenieks was the 2017 USHL Player of the Year. He finished his NHL career with a 2-2-2 record, and with a .899 save percentage.
The National Hockey League's final statement read, "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."