American Sports Legend, Gold Medal Winner of 1980 'Miracle on Ice' Team Found Dead


U.S. Olympic hockey star Mark Pavelich was found dead Thursday in a central Minnesota residential treatment center.

The 63-year-old died at Eagle’s Healing Nest where he was receiving mental health treatment for the past several months, the Minnesota Star Tribune reported.

Pavelich was under civil commitment after he violently assaulted a neighbor in August 2019 and was deemed mentally ill by a district judge.

Police were called to the center around 8:30 a.m. Thursday after his reported death, but the man had not been seen since 8 p.m. the night before.

The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet released a cause and manner of death.

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Pavelich was best known for his role in Team USA’s “Miracle on Ice” defeat of the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics. The team went on to win the gold medal that year.

He then scored over 30 goals in his first seasons with the New York Rangers, according to the Star Tribune.

He played seven years in the National Hockey League with his former Olympic coaches, Herb Brooks and Craig Patrick, Fox News reported.

“I will always be so grateful to have been given the opportunity to play and to have had a friend in Mark Pavelich,” his former teammate Ron Duguay said.

“He was the most unselfish, kind and courageous teammate. He was fearless. … The Ranger fans adored him.”

Pavelich scored 133 goals during his time with the Rangers.

Pavelich’s NHL career also included time with the Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks.

Pavelich’s post-hockey life was plagued with legal, personal and mental issues, which eventually led to his incarceration for the 2019 assault.

In a statement on Twitter, USA Hockey extended its “deepest condolences to Mark’s family & friends” and said he would forever be “a part of hockey history.”

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“The New York Rangers are saddened to learn of the passing of Mark Pavelich,” the Rangers said in a statement, Fox News reported.

“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.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith