Mark Pavelich earned a gold medal after he assisted Mike Eruzione on the game-winning goal in the 1980 Olympic hockey victory over the Soviet Union. As a result, he became an American hero. The “Miracle on Ice” is still considered one of the greatest achievements in the history of sports.
Unfortunately, Pavelich died in early March 2021. On April 5, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Anoka County ruled his death a suicide. The former Olympic athlete and NHL player died of asphyxia, according to the news release.
Pavelich was reportedly suffering from mental illness and was getting treatment at a facility in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Experts believe that he developed a disorder due to brain trauma.
This type of problem is all too common among athletes in contact sports. While the disorder doesn’t necessarily stem from his hockey career, the experts cite repeated head injury as the cause.
Mark Pavelich Sold His Gold Medal
He was a star from the beginning. His play at the University of Minnesota Duluth earned him a spot on the 1980 Olympic team.
After the Olympics, Pavelich went on to become a professional hockey player. He spent most of his career playing for the New York Rangers. He also played seasons with the Minnesota North Stars and the San Jose Sharks.
In recent years, however, it appears that Pavelich was having a rough time. According to the Associated Press, Mark Pavelich lost his wife after an accidental fall in 2012.
And even though Pavelich spent nearly a decade playing professional hockey, he sold his gold medal from the 1980 Olympics for $250,000 in 2014. He wasn’t the first player on the team to do so, and it doesn’t mean anything in and of itself.
He talked to Yahoo in 2014 about his decision to sell the medal.
“I’m doing a lot for my daughter here,” he said. “I want her to get a step forward in life. That’s probably the biggest reason. The only thing is you’re limited to what you can do with these things. You keep it in a vault in the bank somewhere and you take it out once in a while and you look at it and you put it back in. You can’t put them in a house because it could burn or get stolen and it’s just gone and useless. It’s just an impractical thing.”