Mark Pavelich, “Miracle On Ice” Olympic Hockey Star, Found DeadMarch 6, 2021
Mark Pavelich, who was a key component of the Americans’ 1980 ‘Miracle On Ice’ Olympic hockey team, was found dead on Thursday at a mental health treatment center in Minnesota, USA Hockey confirmed on Friday. Pavelich had been living at the Eagle’s Healing Nest facility since last summer after being charged with assault and ruled incompetent to stand trial by a judge. He was placed in a mental health treatment program by the courts. Police did not provide any details on the cause of death. Pavelich was 63.
“We are saddened to hear about the passing of 1980 Olympic gold medalist Mark Pavelich,” USA Hockey said. “We extend our deepest condolences to Mark’s family & friends. Forever a part of hockey history.”
Pavelich was one of the leading scorers for the US national team that won the 1980 Winter Olympic hockey tournament in Lake Placid, New York.
He assisted on Mike Eruzione’s winning goal in the American’s shocking upset of the Soviet Union before the US went on to beat Finland to win the gold medal.
He would go on to a NHL career that included stops with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks. In 355 career NHL games, he finished with 137 goals and 192 assists.
“The New York Rangers are saddened to learn of the passing of Mark Pavelich,” a spokesman for the Rangers said in a statement. “His determination, passion, and dazzling playmaking ability earned him the adoration of Rangers fans during his five-year tenure in New York.”
The Minnesota Star Tribune reported that Pavelich may have been suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE. The illness is believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head and has been linked to numerous current and former professional athletes who play contact sports.
Pavelich was already in a metal health treatment when he was arrested by police for assaulting his neighbor, who suffered serious injuries in the attack. Pavelich’s family and friends said he had become increasingly paranoid and confused. He also suffered from Anosognosia, which is an inability for a person to perceive or accept that they have a mental illness.
His wife died in an accidental fall at their home in 2012 and Pavelich sold his Olympic gold medal several years ago for more than 250,000 dollars, the Star Tribune said.
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