A member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team remains in a Minnesota jail, accused of beating a neighbor in an alleged attack that his sister linked to possible chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Mark Pavelich, 61, faces charges of second- and third-degree assault, possession of an illegal shotgun and possession of a gun with a missing serial number after he attacked his neighbor with a 3- to 4-foot metal pole. He remains held in lieu of $250,000 in the Cook County jail in northern Minnesota, and a hearing to determine his mental competence was ordered by District Court Judge Michael Cuzzo in a hearing Monday.
“Mark is the most kind and gentle person you’d ever know,” Pavelich’s sister, Jean Gevik, told the Star Tribune. “This is a totally different guy.”
She and his family believe that “all the concussions and the blows he had in the NHL” caused CTE, a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to concussions and repeated blows to the head, particularly in former NFL and NHL players. Erratic behavior, lack of impulse control, memory loss and depression are among the symptoms. Pavelich spent seven seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks.
Pavelich, a land developer on Lake Superior’s north shore, allegedly attacked his unidentified 63-year-old neighbor at Pavelich’s home in Lutsen, Minn. The two had been fishing, according to the criminal complaint obtained by the Star Tribune, and the attack allegedly was caused by Pavelich’s belief that his beer had been “spiked.” The victim was hospitalized with two cracked ribs, a bruised kidney, a fractured vertebra and possible internal bleeding. He also had bruises on his arms and legs and a large mark across his back.
Pavelich and the U.S. Olympic team vaulted into history with their stunning 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union in a semifinal game and Pavelich assisted on Mike Eruzione’s winning goal. The United States went on to beat Finland in the gold medal game in Lake Placid. Pavelich, a Minnesota native, played in 355 NHL games, then essentially disappeared in retirement. Seven years ago, Pavelich’s wife Kara, 44, died in an accidental fall from a second-story balcony at their Lutsen home.
Over the last few years, Gevik said her brother has had “anger issues,” but added that “he never hurt anybody, not even in the NHL. Even when he’d get battered around, he’d never retaliate.” She told the Star Tribune that she’d consulted an expert working with former NFL players on the changes she was seeing.
“All the research is out there about CTE,” she said. “This should not be a surprise here.”
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