A judge has ruled that former NHL player Mark Pavelich, one of the athletes responsible for the 1980 Olympic hockey team's “Miracle On Ice,” should be committed to a treatment facility because he is mentally ill and dangerous, according to numerous reports.
Pavelich, 61 was arrested in August after allegedly attacking a friend because he believed that the friend had been “spiking his beer,” The Minneapolis Star-Tribune previously reported. However, the case was suspended in October after a judge found him unfit to stand trial; meanwhile, authorities took steps to have the former athlete committed for mental health treatment, according to the paper.
The latest ruling on Pavelich’s case was handed down on Wednesday, December 4, according to The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Another hearing will take place in February 2020, at which time it will be decided if Pavelich will stay committed for an unknown length of time, the paper reports.
Pavelich’s August arrest came after his friend, 63-year-old James T. Miller, told police that, after going fishing with Pavelich and then traveling back to Pavelich’s home with him, Pavelich accused him of “spiking his beer,” and then proceeded to assault him with a metal pole, according to the Star-Tribune. The alleged attack left Miller with extensive injuries, including multiple cracked ribs, a fractured vertebrae, and bruising on his legs and arms.
Following Pavelich’s arrest — and the resulting charges of second and third-degree assault, possession of an illegal shotgun, and possessing a gun with a missing serial number — Pavelich’s family spoke out about their suspicions that “all the concussions and the blows he had in the NHL” had caused him to suffer from CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition which the Concussion Legacy Foundation defines as a degenerative brain disease that can affect an individual’s judgment and memory, and can result in unpredictable and sometimes violent behavior. It is often seen in athletes and military veterans, and others who have sustained repeated head injuries.
Pavelich’s family said that they began noticing a change in his behavior years ago, but he has not submitted to treatment. His sister, Jean Gevik, called the situation “heartbreaking," according to the Associated Press.
A judge previously ordered Pavelich to undergo an evaluation by two clinical psychologists, who concluded that Pavelich suffers from numerous mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, and delusions, according to the Star-Tribune.
One psychologist, Jacqueline Buffington, concluded that Pavelich suffers from “mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury with behavioral disturbance (psychotic symptoms, aggression),” as well as difficulty expressing himself, due to previous head and brain injuries.
Pavelich was a member of the U.S. hockey team during the 1980 Olympics; their defeat of the Soviet Union, which landed them a gold medal, became known as the “Miracle On Ice.” He went on to play for the New York Rangers, the Minnesota North Stars, and San Jose Sharks before retiring in 1992.
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