Mark Pavelich, a member of the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 Olympics US men’s hockey team, has died at age 63.
He died in North Sauk Centre, Minnesota, according to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minnesota, which is investigating the cause of death.
The Star Tribune reported Pavelich died Thursday morning at a residential treatment center where he had been receiving care for mental illness after attacking a neighbor with a metal pole in 2019.
After being charged with felony assault, Pavelich was found incompetent to stand trial, mentally ill and dangerous, the paper reported. A judge’s order in December 2019 says a psychologist had found that Pavelich was suffering from delusions and paranoia. The paper reported that two psychologists found him to have post-traumatic stress disorder as well as other conditions.
The paper said his family says he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, from repeated blows to the head.
The “Miracle on Ice” team staged an unlikely victory over the Soviet Union and went on to win the gold medal in Lake Placid, New York.
“Forever a part of hockey history,” USA Hockey tweeted.
Pavelich starred at the University of Minnesota Duluth and “played an integral role” in the Olympics effort, the National Hockey League said in a statement.
Pavelich “became a centerpiece” for the New York Rangers for five seasons, scoring 133 goals with 185 assists in 341 games, the NHL said. Pavelich’s 76 points in 1981-82 is the franchise’s rookie record.
“We send our condolences to his family, friends and the countless young players whom he and his 1980 Team USA teammates inspired to play our game,” the league said.
The Rangers tweeted: “His determination, passion, and dazzling playmaking ability earned him the adoration of Rangers fans … Mark helped inspire a nation through the integral role he played on the ‘Miracle on Ice’ team in the 1980 Winter Olympics.”
He also played on the San Jose Sharks during its first year, the team tweeted.
In 2014, Pavelich sold his gold medal for more than $250,000, two years after his wife died in an accidental fall, WCCO reported.