Mark Pavelich

AP

Mark Pavelich, Miracle on Ice hockey player, ruled mentally ill, dangerous

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GRAND MARAIS, Minn. (AP) — Mark Pavelich, a forward on the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic hockey team, is mentally ill and dangerous and should be committed to a secure treatment facility, a Minnesota judge ordered on Wednesday.

Pavelich, 61, of Lutsen, was charged with felony assault in August for allegedly beating a friend with a metal pole, breaking several bones. Charging documents say Pavelich accused the friend of spiking his beer.

Judge Michael Cuzzo found Pavelich incompetent to stand trial, and the criminal case was put on hold while the state sought to have Pavelich committed.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that a hearing in February will determine whether Pavelich should stay committed for an undetermined amount of time.

According to Cuzzo’s order, one psychologist found Pavelich had delusions and paranoia, including a delusion that those closest to him were trying to poison him. Another psychologist found he suffered from a mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury, likely related to repeated head injuries.

Pavelich’s family members have said they believe he suffers from CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, after repeated concussions from his time in the NHL. They said they started seeing changes in him a few years ago and he has refused help.

CTE, which can be diagnosed only after death, has been found in several former NHL players, more than 100 former NFL players and in dozens more athletes and members of the military who have been exposed to repetitive head trauma. The disease can lead to memory loss, depression and even suicide.

The NHL has long denied there is a conclusive link between repeated blows to the head and CTE.

Pavelich’s sister, Jean Gevik, said her brother’s situation was “heartbreaking.”

The NHL has been criticized for the way it has handled head injuries. Last year, the league settled a court case with hundreds of retired players who claimed they were harmed by head injuries. The NHL admitted no wrongdoing. Pavelich did not make a claim, Gevik has said.

Pavelich had two assists in the United States’ 4-3 win over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games medal round. The U.S. then beat Finland to win the gold medal. Pavelich later played for the New York Rangers and two other NHL teams.

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Mark Pavelich, Miracle on Ice skater, jailed on assault charges; family suspects CTE

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Mark Pavelich, a forward on the 1980 U.S. Olympic “Miracle on Ice” hockey team, is in jail on four felony charges including assault after allegedly beating a neighbor with a metal pole.

The incident took place Thursday, according to a complaint file.

A neighbor said Pavelich attacked him, with Pavelich accusing him of spiking his beer after they went fishing. The neighbor was “in and out of shock, but had observable injuries and an obvious disfigurement of his leg,” according to the complaint. He had two cracked ribs, a bruised left kidney and a fractured vertebrae.

Pavelich, 61, was reportedly ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation by a Minnesota judge on Monday.

“There is reason to doubt (Pavelich’s) competency,” wrote Judge Michael Cuzzo in a court order for the evaluation, according to the Duluth News Tribune. A Minnesota court official said that order is not public record.

Pavelich’s sister, Jean Gevik, said the family believes Pavelich has CTE from concussions and blows to head suffered in an NHL career that spanned parts of seven seasons, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

At the 1980 Olympics, Pavelich assisted on the game-tying goal against Sweden, scored and assisted on separate go-ahead goals against Czechoslovakia and assisted on a pair against the Soviet Union in the famed 4-3 upset, including Mike Eruzione’s winner.

Pavelich, known to be an avid hunter and ice fisher, lost his wife in 2012 to an accidental fall from a second-story balcony. He sold his gold medal for more than $250,000 in 2014 to provide for his daughter.

Pavelich, often labeled reclusive in stories on Miracle reunions that he was absent from, including the 2002 Olympic Opening Ceremony cauldron lighting, made a rare appearance at the team’s 35th-anniversary celebration in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“I wanted to come back and see the area,” said Pavelich, who walked outside from one end of the arena complex to the other for a press conference, while the rest of his teammates packed into shuttle vans. “We didn’t have much time to explore and see everything [in 1980].”

Pavelich’s seven NHL seasons were mostly with the New York Rangers.

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MORE: Behind the scenes of Miracle on Ice reunion