The Blue Jackets announced Monday that Kivlenieks suffered an apparent head injury in a fall, calling it a “tragic accident.”
“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,” Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson said. “‘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.”
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 .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,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “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.”
Kivlenieks played for Latvia at the 2021 IIHF World Championships, and was 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. “Hug your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, you will be dearly missed.”