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'Miracle on Ice' star Mark Pavelich ruled unfit to stand trial in Minnesota assault case

Mark Pavelich was charged with multiple counts of felony assault in August.
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Mark Pavelich

After being charged for an assault involving a metal tension bar, former U.S. Olympic hockey star Mark Pavelich has been deemed unfit to stand trial in northern Minnesota. 

Pavelich, a member of the 1980 US. Olympic hockey team that created the "Miracle on Ice" by defeating the Soviet Union and later winning the gold medal, was arrested in August and booked into the Cook County Jail for allegedly attacking his neighbor with a metal rod. 

A criminal complaint says he left the man he'd spent the day fishing with with "observable injuries and an obvious disfigurement of his leg."

Judge Michael Cuzzo ruled Monday in Grand Marais district court that Pavelich "lacks the ability to rationally consult with counsel, is incapable of understanding the proceedings, and is incapable of participating in the defense due to mental illness or deficiency," the Duluth News Tribune reports

Cuzzo deemed Pavelich to be a "significant risk to harm others," ordering him to remain in custody pending relocation to supervised psychiatric care, the newspaper adds. 

The assault happened Thursday, Aug. 15 in rural Lutsen, with the criminal complaint documenting Pavelich as accusing the victim of "spiking his beer," leading to the attack. 

The victim was transported to North Shore Health Hospital in Grand Marais where he was in a "tremendous amount of pain," the complaint says, adding that he suffered marks, bruising and discoloration of his arms and legs, two cracked ribs, a fractured vertebrae, bruised left kidney and possible internal bleeding.

Authorities later discovered an illegal shotgun with the buttstock removed at Pavelich's residence in rural Cook County.

Pavelich was charged with four felony counts of second- and third-degree assault, possession of a short-barreled shotgun and possession of a firearm with a missing or altered serial number.

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The former hockey star's sister told the Star Tribune that they're convinced Pavelich is suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE, the neurodegenerative brain disease caused by repeated head injuries.

Pavelich was a hockey standout at Eveleth High School before becoming an All-American forward with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. After his success in the Olympics he went on to score 137 goals during an NHL career with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks. 

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