Mark Pavelich, a former member of the 1980 USA “Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey team, was found dead at a mental health treatment facility, USA Hockey announced on Friday.
He was 63 years old. The cause of death remains unknown.
“We are saddened to hear about the passing of 1980 Olympic gold medalist Mark Pavelich,” USA Hockey tweeted. “We extend our deepest condolences to Mark’s family and friends. Forever a part of hockey history.”
Pavelich, who played in the NHL from 1981-87 for the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks and Minnesota North Stars, famously was the one who provided the assist to Mike Eruzione on his game-winning goal against the Soviet Union.
According to the [Minneapolis] Star-Tribune, police were called to Pavelich’s residence at Eagle’s Healing Nest at 8:30 a.m. local time on Thursday where he was found dead. He was last seen at the facility at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
The gold medalist was living at the mental health facility in Minnesota after a court ruled he was unfit to stand trial after assaulting his neighbor with a metal rod in August of 2019, per Emily Kaplan of ESPN.
It was ruled Pavelich “lacks 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.”
Pavelich’s life after his hockey career was plagued with legal and personal issues. In 2019, his sister, Jean Gevik, told the Star-Tribune that she believed her brother sustained many concussions throughout his career and was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The New York Rangers also released a statement on Pavelich.
“The New York Rangers are saddened to learn of the passing of Mark Pavelich,” the team said. “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.”