Previous Detroit Crimson Wings goaltender Manny Legace paid tribute to Matiss Kivlenieks Thursday all through an emotional memorial company in Columbus.
Kivlenieks, a 24-12 months-old goalie for the Columbus Blue Jackets, died on July 4 when struck in the chest with a fireworks mortar that inadvertently tipped over.
Kivlenieks was at Legace’s Novi household, attending the wedding of Legace’s daughter.
“I appreciate you I always will enjoy you,” Legace stated. “You were being my son, and you were being a fantastic buddy to everybody in this article.”
Legace, the Blue Jackets’ goaltending mentor, created a shut bond with Kivlenieks at any time considering that Columbus signed the Latvia indigenous in 2017 as an undrafted free of charge agent.
“Ever given that Kivvy joined our group he would come up and dwell with my wife and I each summer season,” Legace mentioned at the service. “He turned a son to us. He lived with us through the pandemic. I obtained to play golf with him every single working day in the summer season, acquired to dangle out with him, perform cards. There is a explanation he experienced that joker on his mask, he had that smile that he was going to get you.
“He bought to turn out to be 1 of my relatives. He obtained to be a brother to my daughter and my son, a excellent mate to our nephew. He needed to arrive to that wedding day on July 4.”
This was the very first time Legace, who performed for Detroit from 1999-2006, has spoken publicly considering that Kivlenieks’ loss of life.
Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins mentioned Kivlenieks prevented the mortar from hitting him and his expecting spouse as properly as numerous other folks at the accumulating.
“He saved not just quite a few lives, but when it took place, I was standing 20, 30 ft back of him and I was hugging my spouse,” Merzlikins claimed. “He saved my (unborn) son, he saved my spouse and he saved me. My son’s 2nd name is likely to be Matiss. He died as hero.”
Kivlenieks also lived with Merzlikins for a time, much too.
“He was supporting additional my spouse than I am doing,” Merzlikins said. “He was performing almost everything. He was performing dishes, he was cleansing the dwelling. Who does that? I’m not accomplishing that. These days, my spouse was concerned about our relationship simply because she was stating that me and Matiss experienced our bromance.”
Legace famous lots of friends from Michigan drove down for the ceremony.
“You manufactured Kivvy sense it at household Michigan was his 2nd household,” Legace stated.
The services provided numerous moments of levity, specifically when Legace observed that previous Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella was in attendance.
“(Kivlenieks) created us so proud. Glance at how several lives he touched,” Legace explained. “Torts even flew in, and he hates goalies.”
Merzlikins, standing next to Legace, chimed in with, “That’s the funniest factor that you at any time explained.”
Legace thanked the Kivlenieks loved ones and the Blue Jackets business for organizing the memorial and said, “He’d be mad. He would not want this. He’d want everyone to just have a beer and go on their way.
“He made us so very pleased, on and off the ice, the way he greeted men and women with a smile, never ever desired to be the front of focus.
“I want to thank Matiss’ mother and dad for boosting a gorgeous child.”
Novi Police competed its investigation into the circumstance and is not actively searching for prices, ruling the loss of life to be accidental. But law enforcement have forwarded their findings to the Oakland County prosecutor’s office environment for further overview.
More: Prosecutor to evaluation Kivlenieks situation just after police investigation