American forward Mark Pavelich, who played an integral role in the 1980 “Miracle On Ice” for Team USA before embarking on an NHL career, was today found dead at a Minnesota treatment facility at the age of 63.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Pavelich spent his first pro season with Lugano of the Swiss League in 1980-81, before using his national team success to land a spot on the New York Rangers in 1981. Pavelich spent five seasons with the Blueshirts before joining his hometown Minnesota North Stars in 1986, playing just twelve games. After two seasons in Italy, becoming Italian champion with HC Bolzano in 1988, Pavelich would return to join the expansion San Jose Sharks in 1991, playing just two games before retiring.
Recruited by Minnesota head coach Herb Brooks, Pavelich was part of the touring United States national team in the lead-up to the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, notching 38 points in 46 games before the tournament began. At the Olympics themselves, Pavelich would amass a goal and assist in six games, including two helpers in the legendary 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union, notching the primary assist on Mike Eruzione’s game winner. Following Team USA’s historic Olympic Gold the next day, their first in two decades, Pavelich wold suit up once more for Team USA, at the 1981 World Championships in Sweden.
Pavelich sadly was dealing with numerous issues in his personal life in the lead-up to his death, including the loss of his wife due to an accidental fall in 2012, as well as an assault arrest in 2019 that led to his stay in a treatment facility, which his family believed to be related to CTE stemming from his hockey career.
Our condolences go out to the Pavelich family, as well as the extended hockey community across the United States, on the death of this iconic national team player.