Mike Peluso's life in hockey is a tale of two distinctly different careers.
A product of Minnesota's youth hockey programs, he was characterized as a slick defenseman in what was, at the time, the top NCAA hockey division with the University of Anchorage from 1985-1989. Peluso was an offensive defensman who set school records for points scored and had plenty of size to clear creases at the other end of the rink.
His potential was identified before he ever got to university, having been drafted by the New Jersey Devils in 1984. But Peluso opted to secure his education before turning pro. As such, he didn't join the NHL until he signed as a free agent with Chicago in 1989-90.
After joining the Hawks' organization, their bright prospect was given a complete makeover. He was bumped up to left wing and handed a role as an enforcer with their minor-league affiliate in Indianapolis of the IHL. With his prodigious size and adroit fists, Peluso had little difficulty fulfilling his new position as the team's gunslinger.
Starting in 1991, he spent most of his time with the Hawks where he continued to fight for a living. In his third and final season in Chicago he led the NHL with 408 penalty minutes accentuated by a small handful of points scored between bouts.
Peluso almost escaped his destiny as a team pugilist in 1992-93 when the Ottawa Senators picked him up in the Expansion Draft. They set him loose in an offensive role although his old habits died hard. He scored a career-high 15 goals, but just couldn't say no to opposition toughs.
Lasting only one year as a Senators forward, Peluso was traded to the New Jersey Devils where he got his named etched on a Stanley Cup in 1995. He lasted with the club until 1996 when he was dispatched to St. Louis for a brief spell before ending his career with Calgary in 1997-98.