SAUK CENTRE, Minn. — Mark Pavelich, a member of the United States’ “Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey team in 1980, was found dead at a Minnesota treatment center, USA Hockey confirmed Friday. He was 63.
According to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, Pavelich died at Eagles Healing Nest in Sauk Centre on Thursday morning, WCCO reported. He was being treated for mental illness after he attacked a neighbor with a metal pole in August 2019, the television station reported. A court ruled Pavelich was unfit to stand trial after the attack in Lutsen, Minnesota, KTSP reported. He was charged with four felony counts for the assault, ESPN reported.
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis first reported details about Pavelich’s death. According to the newspaper, police were called to Pavelich’s residence at about 8:30 a.m. CT on Thursday, where he was found dead. He was last seen on Wednesday at about 8 p.m. at Eagles Healing Nest.
An autopsy will be conducted, the medical examiner’s office said.
Pavelich graduated from Eveleth High School and was an All-American at the University of Minnesota-Duluth before excelling during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, KTSP reported.
Pavelich, a 5-foot-7 center, was an All-American at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He assisted on Mike Eruzione’s game-winning goal that took down the heavily favored Russians in the 1980 Olympics.
Pavelich played in the NHL from 1981 to 1992, mostly with the New York Rangers. He also played for the San Jose Sharks and the Minnesota North Stars.
“The New York Rangers are saddened to learn of the passing of Mark Pavelich,” 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. Mark helped inspire a nation through the integral role he played on the ‘Miracle on Ice’ team in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Our thoughts are with Mark’s loved ones during this difficult time.”
In 2012, Pavelich’s wife, Kara Pavelich, 44, died in an accidental fall from a second-story balcony at their home, KTSP reported. In 2014, Pavelich sold his gold medal for $262,900 through an auction house, saying he wanted to help his adult daughter, the television station reported.