The former NHL player's family says that he suffers from the degenerative brain disease CTE

By Ashley Boucher
August 22, 2019 12:10 AM
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Mark Pavelich
Credit: Cook County Jail

A former NHL player has been charged with assault after allegedly attacking his neighbor with a pipe, causing multiple injuries.

Mark Pavelich, who spent five seasons on the New York Rangers and also played on the Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks, allegedly hit his 63-year-old neighbor at his home in Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune.

Pavelich is perhaps best known for being part of the iconic “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Hockey Team that beat the Soviet Union in the semifinal game at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

The incident allegedly took place after the two men had spent the day fishing together, and Pavelich, 61, accused his neighbor of spiking his beer, the outlet reported. After the alleged attack, the neighbor was hospitalized and suffered two cracked ribs, a bruised kidney, a fractured vertebrae, bruises all over his body and potential internal bleeding.

Pavelich is currently in jail at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office on $250,000 bail after being charged with assault, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office’s online jail roster.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Pavelich’s attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comments.

On Monday, District Judge Michael Cuzzo ordered a hearing to determine Pavelich’s mental competency to stand trial, according to the Washington Post. Pavelich’s family members say that he suffers from CTE because of “all the concussions and the blows he had in the NHL.”

Mark Pavelich
Mark Pavelich
| Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Symptoms of the degenerative brain disease include “impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and paranoia,” according to the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

“Mark is the most kind and gentle person you’d ever know,” Pavelich’s sister Jean Gevik told the Star Tribune.

“This is a totally different guy,” she said, adding that the family noticed him struggling with “anger issues, damaging property” starting about two to three years ago.

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Gevik, who attended Monday’s short hearing along with his mother, also said that Team USA hockey coach Herb Brooks once said that “Mark had one very bad head injury that he was surprised Mark lived through,” according to the Star Tribune.

Pavelich’s family maintains that he needs medical care, and that his actions are because of his disease.

“All the research is out there about CTE,” Gevik said. “This should not be a surprise here.”

Pavelich has largely stayed out of the spotlight since retiring from hockey and is now a land developer. His wife, Kara, died in 2012 at age 44 after falling from the second-story balcony of their home accidentally, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.