CBJ's Elvis Merzlikins admits that the Jackets' cannon is a PTSD trigger for him after teammate's death

Mike Armenti
April 30, 2022  (6:30 PM)

In an absolute nightmare scenario this past summer, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins lost his best friend and teammate, Matiss Kivlenieks, to a freak accident on the 4th of July after Kivlenieks stepped in front of an errant fireworks mortar blast to try to protect Merzlikins and his pregnant wife from being struck.

Tragically, the blast caught Kivlenieks in the chest, causing life-threatening injuries. First responders were able to get to Kivlenieks, but by the time they did, it was too late and the 24-year-old succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
Merzlikins dedicated his season to "Kivi" and even named his son after his fellow Latvian netminder, giving him the middle name "Matiss". The Blue Jackets had a pretty disappointing season under first time NHL head coach Brad Larsen, with Merzlikins struggling mightily in his first season as an NHL starter, posting a 27-23-7 record, along with a 3.22 GAA and a .907 SV%, both inferior to his career averages.
Part of the reason that Merzlikins has struggled, at least to start the season, by his own admission, has been the Blue Jackets' cannon. The cannon is fired at the start of the home games and as well after every Columbus goal.
PTSD can be absolutely crippling, and there's no doubt that with Merzlikins having gone through something so traumatic has likely caused him some significant emotional and psychological damage. Merzlikins admitted on Saturday that he has to close his eyes and try to focus himself and tune out the cannon, as it is a trigger that brings him back to that tragic night in July.
«I'm going to be honest. The next three or four games when I heard the cannon, even when we scored goals, I was always closing my eyes and getting myself ready. I think that's just the trauma, but it went away.»

You really have to feel for Merzlikins. For anyone who has lost a family member or a friend to any form of an accident, or anything sudden and unexpected, it can really mess with your psyche. Having witnessed your best friend's death.. that's a whole other level of trauma.
Thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Merzlikins as he tries to work his way through the grief and psychological trauma. There are no words.
Latest 10 stories