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Hockey great Pavelich determined to be mentally ill and dangerous

Mark Pavelich on the day of his arrest, August 15, 2019 - Cook County Sheriff's Office photo
Mark Pavelich on the day of his arrest, August 15, 2019 - Cook County Sheriff's Office photo

Lutsen resident and Olympic gold medalist Mark Pavelich was back in the Cook County courtroom Nov. 25 for a commitment hearing. Previously, District Judge Michael Cuzzo concluded that Pavelich was “incapable of participating in the defense due to mental illness or deficiency” and a hearing to determine whether he should be committed was scheduled.

This week, on Dec. 4, Cuzzo determined that Pavelich is both mentally ill and dangerous.

The former NHL star, a member of the 1980 Olympic hockey team, was arrested Aug. 15 in Lutsen on suspicion of felony assault. According to a law enforcement report, Cook County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report that a 63-year-old man had been struck with a metal pipe by his neighbor after returning from a day of fishing on Deer Yard Lake. Deputies arrived and after an investigation, they arrested the 61-year-old Pavelich for assault.

The victim suffered cracked ribs, a bruised kidney and a vertebra fracture, as well as bruises.

Pavelich was charged with second- and third-degree assault, possession of an illegal shotgun and possessing a gun with a missing serial number.

On October 28, the court considered a petition for judicial commitment, which asserted that Pavelich was “alleged to be mentally ill and dangerous.”

Judge Cuzzo closed the courtroom to hear medical reports from a clinical psychologist and a forensic psychologist via telecommunications.  When the courtroom was re-opened, Judge Cuzzo told the public and members of the press that he had heard the closing arguments from the attorneys during the closed session. He said the arguments were too “deeply intertwined” with confidential medical information to be shared.

Cuzzo released his decision Dec. 4 in agreement with the petition that Pavelich is “mentally ill and dangerous.”

Pavelich was a member of the 1980 'Miracle on Ice' Olympic hockey team that won a gold medal. He went on to play for a number of years in the NHL, including stints with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks.

Media reports often focus on the fact Pavelich preferred solitude and enjoyed fishing and hunting in the North Shore region.
Pavelich’s wife, Kara Pavelich, died in September 2012 at their Lutsen home when she apparently fell approximately 20 feet from a second-story balcony that had no railing. She was 44.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs contributed to this story.