I wasn’t going to write an article today, about the memorial service for Matiss Kivlenieks, but I’ve realized that would be a disservice to his memory. As a true Blue Jackets 5th line member, today was a bitter sweet day, as we remember a goalie, lost far too soon. However, we also remember a man, who we now know as more, a hero.
Today, in Elvis Merzlikins eulogy, to a man he refers to as his “little brother”, we learned that Matiss Kivlenieks stepped in front of the firework which killed him, on purpose. He did so, not just to protect his fellow goalie, but his wife and expectant mother; in addition to many others at the wedding celebration, turned tragic. Matiss Kivlenieks was many things, a proud Latvian, an NHL goaltender, and in his last act here on this earth, a hero.
Given the stories shared about him today, and every day since his passing, this comes as no surprise to me. I feel that as fans, we see what happens in interviews, and on the ice, but rarely how these men live their day to day lives. A constant of the day’s memories, were of his smile, and his kindness. He never needed to prove such, to anyone, and yet he has, not just to the hockey world, but the world as just a great human.
My heart still aches, for his family, his team whom was his second family, his fans, and anyone who can relate to this tragedy. What a countryman, what a player, but most important, what a good hearted man. We love you, Kivi, and your memory and example will live on, forever.