A day after a Dallas Stars fan allegedly taunted Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins about the death of his friend and former Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, the team is trying to identify the fan.
The Athletic's Aaron Portzline reports the team and Nationwide Arena staff are attempting to uncover the identity of the offending party.
Told #CBJ and #Nationwide Arena security are attempting to identify the fan who, according to goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, taunted Merzlikins regarding the off-season death of his friend and former teammate Matiss Kivlenieks before Monday’s game vs. Dallas. #TexasHockey.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) October 26, 2021
Kivlenieks, 24, was killed at the home of Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace last July 4 during a fireworks malfunction in which the Latvian attempted to shield others from the errant fireworks.
After Monday night's 4-1 victory, Merzlikins revealed that he was taunted before the game.
"I was expecting a shutout, because I believe in karma," Merzlikins said of his 31-save performance. "There are some stupid people in this world. It was really bad what happened in the tunnel when I was walking out. There was a fan from Dallas who [provoked] me about Matiss. After the first period, the three posts that I got, I really believed in karma. I saw that [Matiss] was really there."
Merzlikins, 27, says he didn't respond to the provocations.
"Stupid people don't come into my head," he said. "I didn't get upset. ... I don't care what he said."