Blue Jackets

The Comment Heard Around Columbus- Blue Jackets

Let me start by saying that writing about the unexpected and devastating loss of Matiss Kivlenieks was hard enough on July 5, 2021, and every day since.  However, writing this article has an edge of bitterness, which might make it worse.  It’s something I never imagined possible, and yet here we unfortunately are.  So, what could possibly be more upsetting than losing a promising goaltender, too soon?  A fan of an opposing team, using it as a way to impaire, distract, and taunt his former teammates.  Yes, this is an article about not just sportsmanship, but also respect.

Last night the Dallas Stars visited the Columbus Blue Jackets in Nationwide Arena.  It was not known until after the game, which the Columbus Blue Jackets won 4-1, what had been said by a Stars Fan when the home team came out to play Period 1.  In the video, which I can’t find now as it’s been taken down, however will add here if it can be located, you hear the fan distinctly yell “Don’t light a firework!”  Right about the moment when the goaltender, in this case Elvis Merzlikins, a very close “brother” like friend, should be hitting the ice to play.  A fellow Latvian, Elvis had this to say when questioned about the comment made.  “No. Stupid people don’t come into my head. I leave them there. I didn’t get upset. I just realized how stupid people are,” he said. “I don’t care what he said.”  (

Personally, all I can wonder is why a fan would stoop to such a level?  Imagine if your youngest goaltender had been killed, protecting his friends at a wedding, would you really want someone to say that to his teammates?  Especially just weeks after they honored his memory and legacy in that arena, while you’re standing underneath a banner with his number on it?  A win isn’t everything, but a short life gone too soon, from being a hero, is.  I also must say I’m so sorry, because I know that the family of Matiss Kivlenieks will see this, somehow.  Please know, both to them and those in Latvia, the fans of your son appreciated his talent, kindness, and his sacrifice.

For Kivi.


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