The family of a player on the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” Olympic champion men’s hockey team says concussions and blows he received during his playing career have contributed to his current legal troubles.

Mark Pavelich, 61, was found incompetent to stand trial by a judge in northeastern Minnesota on Monday on charges he beat a neighbor with a metal pole. The Cook County judge concluded Pavelich is “incapable of participating in the defense due to mental illness or deficiency.” The case against Pavelich was suspended as authorities petition to have him committed.

Pavelich’s sister, Jean Gevik, said her brother’s personality has been altered by a degenerative brain disease.

“He’s been an amazing brother. Fun. Loving,” she said. “This has been a total change.”

Gevik suggested CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, could be a factor. CTE, which can be diagnosed only after death, has been found in several former NHL players, more than 100 former NFL players and in dozens more athletes and members of the military who have been exposed to repetitive head trauma. The disease can lead to memory loss, depression and even suicide.


Pavelich, who starred at Minnesota-Duluth, assisted on the winning goal in a stunning upset of the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic hockey tournament semifinals, a triumph that has long been referred to as the “Miracle on Ice.” Team USA went on to defeat Finland in the gold medal game. Pavelich later played for the New York Rangers and two other NHL teams.

Pavelich was charged with second- and third-degree assault this summer after he was accused of attacking his friend in Lutsen following a day of fishing. Pavelich accused him of spiking his beer, according to the Star Tribune .

Jim Miller, Pavelich’s neighbor for 20 years, suffered cracked ribs, a bruised kidney and a fracture to one of his vertebrae, according to a criminal complaint. Pavelich was booked into the Cook County Jail on Aug. 15.

ECHL: The Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL affiliate of the ECHL Maine Mariners, recalled forward Lewis Zerter-Gossage and defenseman Jeff Taylor from Maine. Both players are under contract with the Wolf Pack.

Zerter-Gossage, who signed with the Wolf Pack last spring after finishing his career at Harvard University, had three assists over the weekend as the Mariners split a pair of games against Newfoundland.

Taylor, a 25-year old defenseman whose pro career has been divided between the AHL and ECHL, played in six of Maine’s seven games this season.



GERMAN CUP: Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller scored late to help Bayern Munich avoid an upset and beat second-division Bochum 2-1 at Berlin.

An own goal from Canadian teen Alphonso Davies in the 36th minute had put the home side on course for a win over the defending champion.

Schalke survived a scare to win 3-2 at second division Arminia Bielefeld, which scored two late goals, struck the post and had the ball cleared off the line in a frenetic finale.

Bayer Leverkusen defeated Paderborn 1-0 and Karlsruher SC won 1-0 at second-division rival Darmstadt.

Also, fourth-tier side Saarbrucken scored late to upset Cologne 3-2, Union Berlin defeated Bundesliga rival Freiburg 3-1 away, Hoffenheim won 2-0 at third-division Duisburg and Stuttgart needed extra time to beat second-division rival Hamburger SV 2-1.


BULGARIA: Bulgaria was punished for the Nazi salutes and racist chanting of its soccer fans with an order to play a European Championship qualifying game in an empty stadium, although the team avoided expulsion from the competition.

UEFA’s options to deal with the incidents in Sofia at a Euro 2020 qualifier against England could have removed Bulgaria from the playoffs in March.

The UEFA disciplinary panel also put Bulgaria on probation for two years, which should include most of the 2022 World Cup qualifying program. A repeat offense will trigger a stadium closure for a second competitive game.

Bulgaria fans made Nazi salutes and targeted monkey noises at England’s black players during a 6-0 loss two weeks ago. The game was twice stopped by the referee following UEFA guidelines to address discrimination.


NBA: Toronto Raptors sports science guru Alex McKechnie has been given a promotion and contract extension.


McKechnie has earned a reputation for his innovative treatments for injured players. The NBA champions said he will now hold the title of vice president, player health and performance.

McKechnie helped Kawhi Leonard return to competition after the star forward missed most of the 2017-18 season with a quad injury. In the 2016 playoffs, McKechnie developed an odd treatment involving shoelaces to help DeMar DeRozan deal with a sprained thumb.

McKechnie joined the Raptors in 2011. He previously worked for 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. In other professional jobs, he has worked for soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps. In the NHL, he was a consultant for the Vancouver Canucks.

• Dion Waiters is back with the Miami Heat, though it remains unclear when he will make his on-court season debut.

Waiters was suspended Oct. 19 for conduct detrimental to the team, one day after he expressed displeasure with playing time during Miami’s preseason finale. Heat President Pat Riley said that was “unprofessional,” and noted it was one of multiple incidents that led to the suspension.

• Authorities say longtime Disney enthusiast and Milwaukee Bucks center Robin Lopez unknowingly purchased rare items stolen from Disney World in Florida.


State attorney’s office records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel show Lopez had purchased clothing from a vintage Epcot animatronic called Buzzy that had gone missing from a now-defunct attraction at the Orlando theme park.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office investigators say a former Disney employee and his cousin used fake IDs to sneak into the park last year and steal items valued at thousands of dollars, selling them in a lucrative market for exclusive memorabilia.

Authorities have charged the men with dealing in stolen property, grand theft and burglarizing a structure at the park.

Lopez purchased the items on eBay and is said to be cooperating with authorities.

• Al Bianchi, who played for the Philadelphia 76ers and was later an NBA coach and executive, has died. He was 87.

The New York Knicks said Bianchi died in Arizona of natural causes. He was the team’s general manager from 1987-91, signing future All-Star John Starks.



WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: The UConn basketball player accused of fleeing from a car accident has applied for a probation program that could leave him without a criminal record.

Freshman guard James Bouknight smelled of alcohol after he crashed a car into a street sign near campus early in the morning of Sept. 27, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Police said he fled the scene but later turned himself in. He is charged with evading responsibility, interfering with a police officer, traveling too fast for conditions and operation of a motor vehicle without a license.

Bouknight’s attorney filed an application for Accelerated Rehabilitation, a program for first-time offenders that when successfully completed results in charges being erased. The program usually involves community service and participants must stay out of trouble for the duration of the probation, often a year.

A hearing on the application is scheduled for Nov. 18.


MEN’S BASKETBALL: The NCAA has launched an investigation into the basketball program at Seton Hall.

The university announced the probe, saying Coach Kevin Willard is sitting out the Pirates’ exhibition against Misericordia Tuesday night and the season opener on Nov. 5 against Wagner.

Seton Hall didn’t say what the NCAA enforcement staff was investigating, but it was working with the ruling body for college sports. The school said in a statement it was being proactive in its review.

Assistant coach Grant Billmeier will coach the team for the two games Willard is out.

The Big East school, which has made the last four NCAA tournaments, said Willard is responsible for the program, including the infraction that’s being investigated.

Willard was not immediately available for comment.



INYCAR: James Hinchcliffe has been released from the new Arrow McLaren SP Racing team, two people with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press, despite repeated public assurances that the popular Canadian was not leaving the organization once McLaren came aboard.

Hinchcliffe learned Sunday he was being replaced by 2018 Indy Lights Champion Pato O’Ward and said his farewells at the team shop Monday, the two people said. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because McLaren is not expected to formally announce its lineup of O’Ward and reigning Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew until Wednesday at the earliest.


WTA FINALS: World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty was upset by late substitute Kiki Bertens 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at Shenzhen, China.

Bertens arrived at the elite tournament as an alternate, and has suddenly jumped into title contention with the other seven players in the draw. She took the place of Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the finals on Tuesday with a right shoulder injury ahead of her second round-robin match.


The second singles of the day went in Belinda Bencic’s favor when she outlasted Petra Kvitova 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.

The Bencic win means all four players in the Red Group are still in contention for semifinals action. The standings have Bencic and Barty at 1-1, Kvitova at 0-2, and Bertens at 1-0 going into the last round-robin matches.


COMEBACK ENDS: A shoulder injury has ended the comeback attempt by 55-year-old former boxing champion Nigel Benn.

Benn scheduled his first professional fight since 1996 for Nov. 23 in Birmingham, but hurt his shoulder in training on Monday. He received anti-inflammatory injections in the shoulder last week but they were already failing to reduce acute pain which was affecting his punching power and movement.

He agreed he wasn’t fit to face 40-year-old Sakio Bika next month in what was planned as a one-off fight to give him “closure” on a career blighted by drug abuse, depression and the death of his brother.

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