Authorities rule Miracle on Ice star Mark Pavelich's death to be suicide

Jack Baer
·Writer
·2-min read
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: American hockey player Mark Pavelich #16 of Team USA in action during the 1980 exhibition game against the Soviet Union on February 9, 1980 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)
Mark Pavelich, a five-foot-eight center from rural Minnesota, was fifth on the "Miracle on Ice" team in points at the 1980 Olympics. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

The death of Mark Pavelich, one of the standout players on the "Miracle on Ice" team, has been ruled a suicide by authorities.

The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Anoka County announced Monday that Pavelich died of asphyxia due to a plastic bag over head on March 4. Pavelich's death was reported early last month, with the cause of death unknown.

Pavelich is the second member of the "Miracle on Ice" team to die, following the death of Bob Suter in 2014.

Pavelich was committed to mental health treatment center after vicious assault

Pavelich had been committed to a mental health treatment center at the time of his suicide. A judge ruled Pavelich to be mentally ill and dangerous in 2019 after the former player attacked a longtime friend because he thought he was trying to spike his beer. The assault left the victim with cracked ribs, a bruised kidney, a vertebrae fracture and many bruises.

Facing four counts of felony assault, Pavelich was found to be incompetent to stand trial and sent to Eagle’s Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, per the Associated Press. His family has since speculated his decline to be the result of CTE.

Pavelich's death was a sad end to a life that saw him reach the NHL after Team USA's triumph over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The Minnesota native, who assisted on Mike Eruzione's famous game-winning goal, spent seven seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks.

Pavelich sold his gold medal for $262,900 in 2014, two years after the death of his wife Kara in an accidental fall from a balcony. He told Yahoo Sports at the time he was doing it for his family:

"I’m doing a lot for my daughter here,” Pavelich said. “I want her to get a step forward in life. That’s probably the biggest reason.”

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