'Miracle on Ice' member Mark Pavelich ruled unfit to stand trial in assault case
Pavelich's family believes he is suffering from severe CTE
Mark Pavelich, who was a member of the 1980 Olympic "Miracle on Ice" squad, has been ruled incompetent to stand trial in an assault case after allegedly beating a friend with a metal pole.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a judge ruled Monday, citing a psychiatric evaluation, that Pavelich is "incapable of participating in the defense due to mental illness or deficiency" and needs "some assistance to fully understand" the charges and the criminal proceedings he faces.
Pavelich, 61, is accused of attacking and beating a longtime friend and neighbor with a metal pole following a fishing trip in August. Pavelich claims that the victim spiked his beer throughout the day. The victim suffered cracked ribs, a bruised kidney and a fracture to one of his vertebrae as a result of the attack.
The defendant's family says that Pavelich has undergone a "total change" in personality over the years. They believe he has CTE, a degenerative neurological disorder that often affects athletes who play contact sports, such as hockey and football. The concussions and repeated head trauma often suffered by those athletes have been linked to the development of CTE, which sometimes leads to erratic and violent behavior.
Pavelich was a key member of the 1980 gold medal-winning Team USA squad, assisting on Mike Eruzione's winning goal in the stunning semifinal upset of the Soviet Union. He also was a standout at Minnesota Duluth and played seven seasons in the NHL, five with the New York Rangers and short stints with the Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks. He scored 137 goals and tallied 329 points in 355 career NHL games and is still the only American player to score five goals in a single game.
According to the Star-Tribune, Pavelich has been a "virtual recluse" since retiring from hockey. His family has reportedly urged him to seek help over the past few years but he has refused any sort of treatment, believing there is nothing wrong. The psychologist in this case believes Pavelich requires "intensive psychiatric treatment with neuroleptic medications."
The proceedings against Pavelich will be dismissed in three years unless prosecutors give the court notice that they intend to prosecute when he regains competency.
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