Mike McHugh grew up in Bowdoin and Philadelphia, excelling in several sports. During his junior and senior years in high school he was named to the All-State soccer team (Maine). He was also named to All-New England under 14 team in baseball where he used to play with future major league pitchers Tom Glavine and Bill Swift. Mike also held a green belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Despite his success in other sports it was hockey that Mike liked the most. In 1983-84 Mike scored 48 points for the New Hampton Prep School. He then went on to play four seasons for the University of Maine (1984-88). While playing for Maine he improved his scoring output for each year, totalling 17, 19, 50 and 66 points.
It was his final year in 1987-88 when he made the Hockey East First All-Star team that earned him the chance to be selected by Minnesota in the 1988 supplemental draft (1st overall). Mike never caught on with Minnesota and only played a total of 12 games for Minnesota over a three year span. Most of the time he played in the IHL for Kalamazoo.
In 1990-91 Mike scored 65 points (27 goals and 38 points) in 69 games for Kalamazoo and was the teams +/- leader with a +21 rating. He also earned the teams "Mr. Hustle" and "Unsung Hero" awards. It was during this season that he played half of the 12 games for Minnesota when he was recalled on February 14, 1991.
On May 30, 1991 Mike was acquired from Minnesota by the new expansion team, the San José Sharks. Mike had a very impressive camp with the Sharks and won a spot on San José's initial starting lineup in their first ever NHL game. Unfortunately Mike only played in the first 8 games before he was traded to Hartford for veteran Paul Fenton. In the 8 games he only managed to score one goal (in his second game)
This proved to be his last games in the NHL as Hartford assigned him to Springfield (AHL). There he played for two seasons. Between 1993-98 Mike went on to have a steady minor league career for the Hershey Bears.
In 1997 Mike won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the AHL MVP. Until 1998 Mike scored a respectable 375 points in 503 AHL games plus 142 points in 212 IHL games.\
Mike is one of those many unspectacular ex-NHL players who only played against the very best for a brief time but did it well as long as it lasted.