Hockey community gathering to honor Mark Pavelich, raise awareness of mental health in sports

The hockey community will gather next week in Hermantown and Biwabik to not only honor the memory of Mark Pavelich, but also help raise awareness about mental health in sports.

Giants Ridge in Biwabik will host a four-person golf scramble on Monday, starting at 9 a.m., featuring some of Pavelich’s teammates from the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, NCAA coaches and players, and current and former NHL players.

Already beyond capacity, proceeds from the event will go toward the two hockey programs Pavelich grew up playing with — Eveleth Area Youth Hockey and the University of Minnesota Duluth. Pavelich, a native of Eveleth, played three seasons at UMD from 1976-79 — being named an All-American in 1978-79 — before winning gold at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.

Funds are also being raised for a future facility for The Ranch — Teammates for Life, a nonprofit organization that Pavelich co-founded with former New York Rangers teammate Barry Beck. The organization works with hockey players and veterans who suffer from mental health issues. The new facility will help those who need help working through rehabilitation and research.

Mark Wick, an assistant men’s hockey coach at Augsburg and former head coach at St. Scholastica, has helped organize the event. He said the biggest goal is to honor Pavelich, and the best way to do that is to continue normalizing the discussion of mental health.

“There’s so many people who deal with it,” said Wick, who has become an active mental health advocate after going through his own battles. “We want to honor Pav, but also what he was working on, and just raise the awareness of mental health, that you’re not alone. There is help out there.”

Wick will be part of a presentation about mental health the night before at Hermantown High School along with former NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk and Hans Skulstad, owner of Center for Sports and the Mind in Golden Valley, Minnesota. The presentation is from 6-7 p.m. Sunday and open to the public.

Malarchuk, a board member for The Ranch, is the featured speaker. He’s the former Quebec Nordiques, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres goaltender who had his throat cut by a skate while playing for the Sabres in 1989. Also a suicide survivor, Malarchuk will share the story of his mental health journey and be available afterward to sign copies of his book, “The Crazy Game.”

“There’s so many people that deal with it,” Wick said. “You’ll see that listening to Clint’s story, you see that with guys that are at the golf event, and stories about some of the people we’ve lost like Pav and (former Bulldog) Andrew Carroll. There’s so many of them.”

Pavelich died by suicide on March 4 at the age of 63 while undergoing mental health treatment at a rehabilition center in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. He was arrested for an alleged assault of a neighbor at his Lutsen home in August 2019.

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