A moment of silence was held for Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks on Sunday night prior to the start of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens.
The short tribute came before the playing of the U.S. and Canadian national anthems.
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“The National Hockey League family mourns the tragic passing of Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates during this difficult time,” the PA announcer said.
The Blue Jackets reacted to the tribute immediately after.
“Thank you @NHL, @CanadiensMTL and @TBLightning for that touching tribute,” the team tweeted. “And thank you to everyone in the hockey world for your support today. We love you, Kivi.”
BLUE JACKETS’ MATISS KIVLENIEKS DIED OF CHEST TRAUMA FROM FIREWORKS, AUTOPSY REVEALS
Kivlenieks, 24, died on Sunday night. A Michigan medical examiner said the cause of his death was chest trauma from a mortar-style firework blast, not from a fall, which is what police initially reported.
Lt. Jason Meier of the Novi Police Department said Kivlenieks was in a hot tub when the mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to go off toward people nearby. Police initially believed that Kivlenieks hit his head on concrete while running away from the fireworks.
Kivlenieks’ death was announced by the Blue Jackets and Latvian Hockey Federation early Monday.
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“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,” the Blue Jackets president of hockey operations, John Davidson, said in a statement. “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.”
EuroJournal’ Dan Canova contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.