ANOKA, Minn. – The death last month of prominent “Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey player Mark Pavelich was ruled a suicide, a Minnesota medical examiner said Monday.
The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Anoka County said in a news release that Pavelich, 63, died of suffocation. His body was found on March 3 at Eagle’s Healing Nest in Sauk Center, Minnesota.
Pavelich was being treated at the home as part of a civil commitment for assaulting his neighbor in Cook County, Minnesota, in August 2019. Pavelich thought the man had taken a spike in his beer.
He was charged with serious battery, but Judge Michael Cuzzo found that he was unable to stand trial because he was mentally ill and dangerous. The judge said psychologists found that Pavelich suffered from delusions and paranoia. The experts also diagnosed him with a mild neurocognitive disorder due to a traumatic brain injury, probably related to repeated head injuries.
Pavelich, who played 341 of his 355 NHL games with the Rangers, assisted in Mike Eruzione’s winning goal against the highly favored Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics. That US team won the medal for gold.