Mark Pavelich

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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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How the Miracle on Ice reunion came together

Miracle on Ice
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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Wayne Gretzky played a small role in inspiring Saturday’s “Relive the Miracle,” the first time all living 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey players will unite in Lake Placid since they won gold.

About one year ago, Gretzky was asked to appear at an event (not in Lake Placid) but had to decline, said Jeff Holbrook, Gretzky’s representative. So, Holbrook found replacements in 1980 U.S. Olympians Mike Ramsey and Dave Christian.

After the event, Holbrook said Ramsey asked if he could find similar opportunities for appearances. That got Holbrook thinking. Hey, the 35-year anniversary of the Miracle on Ice is coming up.

“I started putting all the pieces together,” Holbrook said Thursday while sitting inside Herb Brooks Arena, where the U.S. stunned the Soviet Union 4-3 at the 1980 Winter Games.

More about reunion during Hockey Day in America, Sunday at noon on NBC and online

Holbrook, formerly the Arizona Coyotes executive vice president, bounced thoughts off Gretzky and ran ideas up the NHL flagpole to deputy commissioner Bill Daly. Maybe they could get the team together at an NHL event, such as the Winter Classic. Or have a single NHL team take it over, such as when the Coyotes brought several players to a game last February.

Further along, Holbrook realized it would be best to do it in Lake Placid, where the 1980 Winter Olympics still live outside Main Street window displays and inside, on looped highlights around the hockey arena.

“Having them all together here means a lot more than having them all together in Rochester, or some place,” Holbrook said, conjuring one of Brooks’ lines from the 2004 film “Miracle.” “Coming here probably pushes them over the edge [to want to come], where maybe in the past they wouldn’t have.”

When all 19 living players (of 20 total) gather here Saturday, it’s believed to be their first full reunion since Brooks’ death in 2003 (forward Mark Pavelich reportedly attended the wake but not the funeral). The only other full reunion since 1980 was for an NHL All-Star weekend event in Los Angeles in 2002 (pictured).

Details of Saturday night’s ‘Relive the Miracle’ event

Arranging reunions proved so difficult that not even the honor of lighting the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic cauldron was a 20-for-20 success.

But starting last January, Holbrook began texting, emailing, calling and even meeting face to face with the 20 members of the 1980 U.S. team.

“It wasn’t as easy as sending out an email saying, ‘Do you want to come?'” he joked. “There’s a reason why it hasn’t been done in 35 years.”

In initial player conversations last spring and summer, the impetus was to do this now, while everybody is still alive.

One of the players whom Holbrook spoke with in person was defenseman Bob Suter, at an NHL playoff game last season. Suter was on board for the reunion, but he died of a heart attack in September. Suter’s jersey will be raised to the rafters to climax Saturday night.

“In a weird way, that’s why everyone is here,” said Todd Walsh, the Arizona Coyotes broadcaster who will moderate Saturday night’s chronological look back with the players before an expected crowd of about 5,000. “I think with Bob going, it’s a reminder of everyone’s mortality. That’s just my sense.”

Then there’s the reclusive Pavelich. In addition to Brooks’ funeral, he was also not present for the 2002 Olympic cauldron lighting, according to reports from Salt Lake City.

Holbrook said teammates including Buzz Schneider and John Harrington reached out to Pavelich and, importantly, stayed on him until he committed.

Pavelich was on his way to Lake Placid as of Thursday night, driving with two dogs from Oregon with a stop in Minnesota.

“I think the fact that he is coming I think pushed other guys over the edge to be here, too,” said Holbrook, managing partner of Potentia Athletic Partners. “If it wasn’t Lake Placid, I don’t know if Mark would have come.”

Holbrook, a 13-year-old playing Space Invaders when the Miracle happened, said he’s dedicated one year of his life to making the reunion happen. He also stressed help from his family, co-workers and the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) that manages the 1980 Olympic facilities.

“I’ve seen presidents of countries cower in Wayne’s presence,” Holbrook said of Gretzky. “I didn’t think I could ever see anything that elicits that sort of response from people. This is the only thing that really does, to me. When you talk about this to people, they always get the same look on their face.”

The biggest challenge of the endeavor is yet to come, Holbrook said. That’s the event Saturday night, the eve of the 35-year anniversary of the Miracle game.

“Knowing how important it is to people,” Holbrook said. “We can’t screw it up.”

Walsh, who has spent nearly two decades as a Coyotes broadcaster, has butterflies, too.

“I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that I’ll be up there,” Walsh said, looking down as workers constructed the stage on what is usually an ice rink, in his first five minutes inside Herb Brooks Arena. “I kid you not. I don’t even know what to say.”

Photos: Herb Brooks’ Miracle on Ice items up for auction