Former Rangers captain Barry Beck said the team and USA hockey were “accountable” for the death of Mark Pavelich because they did not support the “Miracle on Ice” star as he battled mental illness — possibly related to head injuries suffered during a seven-year NHL career — prior to his passing Thursday at a mental health treatment facility in Minnesota.
Beck also took aim at the NHL, which he called “cowards,” hours after officials announced Friday that his 63-year-old former teammate was found dead.
The cause of death is under investigation.
In a blistering, 946-word Facebook post, a heartbroken Beck blasted team president John Davidson, also a former teammate, for not returning an email asking the Rangers to “publicaly (sic) show their support for Mark by just saying one of their own former players was sick and we wish him well.”
But The Post learned Davidson had been in constant contact with former Rangers netminder Glen Healy of the NHL alumni association regarding Pavelich. In the Facebook post, Beck credited Healy and the alumni association for becoming “involved” with Pavelich.
“Well JD did not even return my email. I guess he was too [f–king] busy,” wrote Beck, a Rangers defenseman from 1979-86. “He should have picked up the phone and called me. That would have been the right thing to do as we were teammates and he certainly would have my back right?
“You’re on your throne now John but if our paths ever cross you better be ready. Or maybe just turn your back again.”
The Rangers, who declined to comment on Beck’s post, said in a statement Friday that they were “saddened” to learn of the passing of Pavelich, a hard-nosed, skilled center who spent five seasons with the organization from 1981-86 after playing a key role in the United States’ stunning gold medal win at the 1980 Olympics.
USA hockey and the NHL sent out similar statements. Both did not immediately respond to requests for comment in light of Beck’s post.
“The Rangers and USA hockey are accountable for Marks death,” Beck said. “The NHL has to grow a set of balls and take action.”
Pavelich was undergoing treatment at the facility as part of a civil commitment for assaulting his neighbor in Minnesota in August 2019. He was charged with felony assault but was found incompetent to stand trial because was deemed by the judge have a mental illness and dangerous.
Beck wrote that Pavelich’s sister, Jean, believed the Eveleth, Minn. native suffered from CTE, the degenerative brain disease often found in hockey and football players that is associated with depression, memory loss and dementia and can only be diagnosed after death.
The NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman has previously said that the “relationship between concussions and the asserted clinical symptoms of CTE remains unknown,” even as several other deceased players were found to have had the disease.
In 2016, the league settled an $18.9 million lawsuit with 302 retired players who claimed the NHL failed to protect them from head injuries or warn them of the risks involved with playing.
“Now not one NHL team will discuss CTE or any of their players, staff or employees,” wrote the 63-year-old Beck, who once told the Washington Post that he experiences depression as a result of concussions sustained in hockey. “After the CTE lawsuit the NHL was just happy they didn’t have to discuss it anymore. They told teams under no circumstances shall any team discuss CTE the shrinkage of the brain. Not even the stick boy.
“They don’t discuss it because their cowards. The only thing that matters to them is money.”
Following Pavelich’s arrest, Beck said he “immediately contacted his sister Jean to see how I could help. I asked her ‘has anyone from the Rangers or USA hockey contacted you yet to offer their support?’ No one called and still to this day no one called. Who the f&$k do these people think they are?
“They better not send their condolences now because they missed the boat,” Beck continued. “If they do I’ll chew them up from one end to the other.”
“USA hockey you can throw them in the same boat as the Rangers,” Beck wrote. Wouldn’t respond to help Mark. A [f–king] American hero!! You stupid MF’S!
Beck said he was “deeply saddened, shocked and overcome with grief” upon hearing of Pavelich’s death.
He said the two had spoken recently, adding that Pavelich was there for him after Beck’s son, Brock, was killed in July in Hamilton, Canada.
“Climbing one big mountain to overcome my sons death is a difficult task. Now I have two mountains to climb,” Beck said. “Well I’m ready to climb for Mark now.”