Michel Petit played his junior hockey as an all-star rearguard for the Sherbrooke Castors and the St. Jean Castors of the QMJHL from 1981 to 1983. It was during that time that he already showed his attractive blend of skill and toughness.
In need of such qualities, the Vancouver Canucks' made him their 1st choice in the 1982 Entry Draft. Petit joined the struggling squad as a regular after a 19-game stint with the Canadian National team in 1983-84. With the Canucks, the young blueliner was subjected to considerable pressure by a city hungry for defensive relief. Petit did his best but often tried to exceed the limitations of his own abilities. As such, he struggled during his four and a half years on the West Coast.
In 1987, Rangers' coach Michel Bergeron rescued Petit from the depths of his floundering career. In the Big Apple, he stepped up his offensive production and his bellicose ways. He established himself with a strong physical presence and a penchant for using his stick for purposes beyond scoring goals and blocking shots.
When Bergeron became the GM of the Quebec Nordiques, he brought Petit along to tend his blueline in Quebec City. But in 1990, the team went after the Leafs' Rob Pearson with Petit as part of the payment. Coach Tom Watt of the Leafs held fond memories of Petit from their days in Vancouver and was eager to land him at the Gardens. But as was so often the case, he lasted only a year and a half before it was time to pack up again and move, this time to Calgary.
With the Flames, Petit put in his final stint of substance, lasting two-and-half years, before he rounded out his NHL career with short stops in Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Edmonton, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. After leaving the big leagues, Petit put in stints with the Las Vegas Thunder and the Chicago Wolves of the IHL plus two terms with the Frankfurt Lions in Germany.