Pierre-Luc Dubois to honor late Matīss Kivlenieks with number change

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Pierre-Luc Dubois will have a new number next season to honor Matīss Kivlenieks, his former Blue Jackets teammate who was killed in a tragic fireworks accident in July.

Dubois, who was traded to the Jets in January, will be switching from No. 13 to No. 80, the number that Kivlenieks wore while they were both playing in the Blue Jackets’ organization.

The 24-year-old Kivlenieks died of chest trauma caused by a fireworks accident during a July 4 party at the home of Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace.

Dubois was one of a number of current and former Blue Jackets who took to social media to remember Kivlenieks following his death, writing on Instagram: “RIP ‘Kivvi’. You were a great person and an unbelievable friend to have.”

Pierre-Luc Dubois / Instagram

During a memorial service last month, Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merlizkins hailed Kivlenieks’ actions that day, revealing that his former goaltending partner protected those in attendance.

“He saved my son. He saved my wife and he saved me,” Merzlikins said. “He saved many lives. … If that wouldn’t have been me, my wife or son, it would’ve been 50 other people. He died a hero. And that’s not me saying it. That was the doctor saying it. If he would just sit, it wouldn’t have happened.

“I just wanted to let you know that he was a hero. He saved a lot of lives. … Matīss wasn’t my friend. He was my little brother.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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