Mark Pavelich, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team who assisted on the ‘Miracle on Ice’ game-winning goal, has been found incompetent to stand trial on charges of second- and third-degree assault, and the 61-year-old’s sister has said that she believes the decline in the former New York Rangers center’s mental health is tied to CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
According to the Star-Tribune, the case against Pavelich was suspended by a Minnesota judge on Monday, with authorities petitioning to have the former NHLer committed to treatment. The charges stem from an August incident in which he allegedly struck a friend with a metal pole after accusing the friend of “spiking his beer.” The Star-Tribune reported that Pavelich’s alleged assault left 63-year-old James T. Miller with “cracked ribs, a bruised kidney and a fracture to one of his vertebrae.”
The Duluth News Tribune reported Pavelich met with a psychologist twice in September to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. In an order to suspend trial, Judge Michael Cuzzo said it had been determined Pavelich is “likely suffering from post traumatic stress disorder with delayed expression and secondary psychotic features, as well as unspecified neurocognitive disorder.” Dr. Chris Bowerman recommended that Pavelich be committed, adding that he “requires psychiatric treatment with neuroleptic medications,” according to the Duluth News Tribune. Pavelich was said to lack “the ability to rationally consult with counsel, is incapable of understanding the proceedings, and is incapable of participating in the defense due to mental illness or deficiency.”
His bail was increased to $500,000 following Monday’s hearing.
Speaking with the Star-Tribune in August, Jean Gevik, Pavelich’s sister, called her brother the “most kind and gentle person you’d ever know,” but said she began to see changes in him a few years ago, including anger issues. Gevik told the Star-Tribune that ‘Miracle on Ice’ coach Herb Brooks had once said that Pavelich suffered a head injury that “he was surprised Mark lived through.” In speaking about the changes she’s seen in her brother, Gevik added it “should not be a surprise” given what is known about CTE. Gevik was thankful that Pavelich’s mental health was to be examined ahead of the trial, telling the Star-Tribune in August that maybe her brother can “get the help he needs.”
According to the Star-Tribune, “proceedings against Pavelich will be dismissed in three years unless prosecutors give the court notice that they intend to prosecute when he regains competency.”
Pavelich, who spent five seasons with the Rangers, spent time in the Italian and Swiss Leagues and had brief stints with the Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks, wrapped up his playing career in 1991-92. He scored 137 goals and 329 points in 355 career NHL games.
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