Former 'Miracle On Ice' Hockey Player, Mark Pavelich, Arrested For Attacking Neighbor With A Pipe

Photo: Cook County Sheriff's Office
Who Is Mark Pavelich? Former 'Miracle On Ice' Hockey Player Arrested For Assault Of Neighbor With Pipe

Back in 1980, during the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, the world was glued to their televisions as the U.S. men’s hockey team faced off against the former Soviet Union, who had won four gold medals in years past. But in this game, the U.S. beat their opponents in the final seconds, scoring a goal and creating one of the most memorable moments in sports history.

The U.S. eventually went on to defeat Finland and won the gold, and several movies were made. Miracle on Ice, a made-for-TV movie, aired in 1981; Do You Believe in Miracles?, which was narrated by actor Liev Schreiber, premiered in 2001; the film Miracle was released in 2004; and the documentary, Of Miracles and Men, was released in 2015. 

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Most of the hockey players went on to continue their careers. But one player in particular is back in the news. Who is Mark Pavelich?

Pavelich played 355 regular season games in the NHL on several teams: the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks, before retiring in 1992. He then became a land developer and steered clear of the media. And now, instead of being remembered for being a player in this groundbreaking game, his name is back in the headlines for assault.

Pavelich allegedly attacked his neighbor with a pipe, causing the victim, James T. Miller, injuries, including two cracked ribs, a bruised kidney, a fractured vertebrae, potential internal bleeding, and bruises all over his body.

The victim, who is 63 years old, was in his home at the time. According to reports, the altercation occurred after the two men spent the day fishing together, and then Pavelich, 61, accused the neighbor of spiking his beer. That’s when he attacked. 

The Sheriff’s Office said authorities responded to a call from the victim, who reported being struck with a “3- to 4-foot-long metal pole.” He was then hospitalized, and the attack left bruises on his arms, legs, and across his back. Police went inside and found a shotgun under the upstairs bed. The butt of the gun was gone and in its place was a bent tree branch, “leaving the weapon shorter than the legal limit.” The serial number was also scratched off.

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He’s currently in jail at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office on $250,000 bail. On Monday, District Judge Michael Cuzzo held a hearing to determine Pavelich’s mental competency after his family members claim he suffers from CTE, which stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Pavelich at the 1980 Olympics (Photo: Getty)

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According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of CTE include difficulty thinking, depression, apathy, short-term memory loss, difficulty planning, emotional instability, substance misuse, and suicidal thoughts. Pavelich’s family says he sustained concussions and blows during his career. 

“Mark is the most kind and gentle person you’d ever know. This is a totally different guy,” Jean Gevik, Pavelich’s sister, told the Star Tribune. She also says the family noticed he had anger issues and started damaging property about two or three years ago. 

“All the research is out there about CTE. This should not be a surprise here... He never hurt anybody, not even in the NHL. Even when he’d get battered around, he’d never retaliate. He needs medical care. Maybe now he can get the help he needs,” she added.

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.