The Columbus Blue Jackets are attempting to identify a fan after goaltender Elvis Merzlikins said someone wearing a Dallas Stars sweater taunted him about the tragic death of teammate Matiss Kivlenieks before Monday night’s game, according to one report.
Merzlikins, 27, told reporters after Monday night’s 4-1 win that while walking through the tunnel a fan “provoked” him about the death of Kivlenieks, who died over the summer after being struck in the chest with a firework.
“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,” he said, via ESPN.
COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 25: Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins #90 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up prior to a game against the Dallas Stars at Nationwide Arena on October 25, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images) (Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)
“No,” Merzlikins replied when asked if he responded. “Stupid people don’t come into my head. I leave them there. I didn’t get upset. I just realized how stupid people are. I don’t care what he said.”
One video from the Blue Jackets Instagram Stories was circulating on social media and appeared to catch a fan shouting “don’t light a firework.”
The Blue Jackets and stadium security are attempting to identify the fan, The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reports.
Merzlikins said during a memorial service in July for Kivlenieks, who was both a friend and teammate, that he “died a hero” after saving him and his pregnant wife.
May 8, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks (80) makes a save in net against the Detroit Red Wings in the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)
“He saved not just many lives, but when it happened, I was standing 20-30 feet back of him and I was hugging my wife,” he said at the time. “I was hugging my wife. He saved my son, he saved my wife, and he saved me.”
Elvis Merzlikins stopped 31 of 32 shots on Monday and is unbeaten in four starts this season.