Mike Peluso, then known as a slick defenseman, was drafted in 1985 by the New Jersey Devils but was never signed, opting to instead secure his education by playing with the University of Alaska until 1989. The Chicago Blackhawks signed him as a free agent in 1989, and he started his National Hockey League career with the Blackhawks in 1990. When he joined the Hawks he was switched to forward and was encouraged to fight if he wanted to stay. His first fight came in his first game against the Minnesota North Stars when he fought Basil McRae. He would record 728 penalty minutes in his first two seasons.
He would spend parts of three years in Chicago before going to the new Ottawa Senators in the expansion draft in 1992. In his one season in Ottawa, he set the club record for penalty minutes, but was allowed to play a more offensive role, scoring 15 goals and becoming perhaps the team's most popular player. On June 26, 1993, he was traded to the New Jersey Devils to complete an earlier transaction that sent Craig Billington, Troy Mallette and New Jersey's 4th round choice (Cosmo Dupaul) in 1993 Entry Draft to Ottawa. In New Jersey he would win a Stanley Cup in 1995.
Peluso became somewhat of a cult hero in New Jersey, where his gritty, hard-nosed style was appreciated by the fans. Peluso played with emotion, known to be a dominating figure in person and on the ice. He was on the famed "Crash Line" with Randy McKay and Bobby Holik, a fourth-line combination that provided energy and timely goal-scoring during the Devils' 1995 Stanley Cup run. Peluso is most remembered for how he displayed his emotions on the bench in the closing minutes of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings on June 24, 1995.
Peluso was well liked by team-mates and fans and would often be found spending time in the parking lot of the Brendan Byrne Arena with fans after Devils' home games.
Later in his career he would also play for the St. Louis Blues and Calgary Flames. He will remain best known for his aggressive play and physical presence which greatly contributed to the New Jersey Devils' improbable playoff run and eventual sweep of the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings in the 1995 Stanley Cup Championship. His career came to an end after suffering a spinal cord injury in 1997. He retired after the 1997–1998 season.
- Peluso one of several men prominently discussed as possible models for the singer's lover in Alanis Morissette's song You Oughta Know . Peluso was rumoured to have had a relationship with Morissette during his time with the Ottawa Senators.
- He is the older cousin of another player with the same name, Mike Peluso, who also played for Chicago.