The Columbus Blue Jackets and Nationwide Arena security are reportedly attempting to identify a fan who, according to Blue Jackets’ goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, taunted Merzlikins regarding the off-season death of his friend and former teammate Matiss Kivlenieks. The taunting incident occurred before Monday’s game against the Dallas Stars.
The report appears to be related to an incident that occurred when the Blue Jackets took the ice on Monday night. It’s being reported that one fan yelled “don’t light a firework.”
I believe (not 100% sure) that you can hear the taunt on a video posted on CBJ’s Instagram story last night. I think you can hear “don’t light a firework” 😔 pic.twitter.com/rWqeVFitIN
— John’s Plan (@therealholstein) October 26, 2021
Blue Jackets fans on Twitter have attempted to assist in the search for the person in question, and appear to believe it was a Dallas Stars fan located near the Blue Jackets tunnel at the time of the incident.
found the stars fan. wearing a klinger jersey. i believe he is sitting there (the jersey + hat colour matches) should be section 103. looking at the arena, should be row M seat 3. pic.twitter.com/WS9zb88eHh
— ted // commissions open (@bigcrocbroc32) October 26, 2021
It’s uncertain if this was the person who allegedly taunted Merzlikins.
“I strongly believe I was expecting a shutout, because I believe in karma. There are some stupid people in this world. It was really bad, what happened when I was walking out. There was a fan from Dallas who provoked me about Matiss [Kivlenieks],” Merzlikins said after the game.
The veteran goaltender said the fan’s taunt didn’t bother him. “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.”
Kivlenieks was killed this past offseason when a malfunctioning firework struck him in the chest. Kivlenieks and Merzlikins were attending a holiday party at the home of former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace.
Police said the mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby. The 24-year-old Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and tried to get clear with several other people, police Lt. Jason Meier said.
An initial autopsy report determined Kivlenieks died from chest trauma, possibly caused by the extreme force from the powerful blast of exploding fireworks.
Kivlenieks suffered major damage to his heart and lungs, according to the autopsy report from the county medical examiner.
By Jon Sorensen