Mike Peluso was one tough hombre during his playing days. A 6’ 4”, 225-pound winger, he battled his way through eight seasons in the NHL, making his living with hands that were rock hard and thrown often. He picked up nearly 2,000 career penalty minutes along the way, including an astonishing 408 during the 1991-92 season with the Blackhawks. To this day, he’s one of just four players in history to record at least 400 minutes in the box during a single season.
It’s a hard way to make a go of it, but it’s a price Peluso gladly paid, one that earned him the respect of his teammates and made him a valuable member of New Jersey’s 1995 Stanley Cup championship squad.
What he didn’t know at the time was that he would continue paying a price long after his playing days were over. His brain damaged by repeated blows, he’s suffered eight grand mal seizures since retiring in 1998 along with depression so overwhelming that at one point he was on the verge of committing suicide.
He blames the league, and the Devils in particular, for his deteriorating health. Now, as one of more than 100 former players currently involved in a class-action lawsuit against the NHL, he’s speaking to Canada’s W5 about what he sees as a reckless disregard for his health and that of other players by team personnel.
“I wouldn’t have played in this league [if I’d known about] the seizures and the brain damage,” he says in the video link below. “I swear to God. Nothing’s more important than your health. Nothing. Nothing.”
Check out the complete W5 piece here, which also features former player Dan LaCouture and a failed interview with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.