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He wasn’t known for his goal-scoring ability, but as a talented playmaker, Mike Nykoluk turned out to be one of the most productive point-getters in the history of the American Hockey League.

The Toronto native was a member of the inaugural Rochester Americans club in 1956-57 and suited up in 32 National Hockey League games for the Toronto Maple Leafs that same season. But Nykoluk would spend the entirety of the next 15 years in the AHL, mostly becoming one of the faces of the Hershey Bears franchise.

Nykoluk’s 14 seasons in Hershey were highlighted by two Calder Cup championships, one in 1959 and another in 1969. He never cracked the 20-goal mark in his career, but he recorded at least 50 assists in seven straight seasons (1963-70), leading the league twice.

In 1966-67, Nykoluk won the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player and was a Second Team AHL All-Star. A year later, he set career highs with 19 goals and 85 points and earned a First Team All-Star selection.

Nykoluk, who retired in 1972, remains third on the AHL’s all-time list with 686 assists, sixth with 881 points and fourth with 1,069 games played. He also ranks second with 62 career playoff assists and tied for fourth with 112 Calder Cup Playoff games played.

In Chocolatetown, Nykoluk is the Hershey Bears’ all-time leader in games played (972), assists (636) and points (808), and his number 8 has been retired by the team.

Nykoluk went on to become the first assistant coach in the National Hockey League, helping the Philadelphia Flyers to Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975. He later returned to Toronto and spent three seasons as the head coach of his hometown Maple Leafs.

Career AHL Statistics – Mike Nykoluk
  Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1956-57 Rochester Americans 28 9 13 22 30 9 3 2 5 4
1957-58 Rochester Americans 69 14 37 51 45 -- -- -- -- --
1958-59 Hershey Bears 66 15 38 53 60 13 5 4 9 15
1959-60 Hershey Bears 71 13 32 45 55 -- -- -- -- --
1960-61 Hershey Bears 71 10 24 34 14 8 1 5 6 0
1961-62 Hershey Bears 59 4 20 24 13 7 1 2 3 12
1962-63 Hershey Bears 72 7 36 43 21 15 1 9 10 2
1963-64 Hershey Bears 72 9 63 72 39 6 1 3 4 0
1964-65 Hershey Bears 71 11 55 66 29 15 2 11 13 6
1965-66 Hershey Bears 67 10 53 63 14 3 0 1 1 0
1966-67 Hershey Bears 72 16 68 84 26 5 0 4 4 4
1967-68 Hershey Bears 72 19 66 85 30 5 2 6 8 0
1968-69 Hershey Bears 74 15 55 70 14 11 0 8 8 0
1969-70 Hershey Bears 72 16 57 73 12 7 0 2 2 2
1970-71 Hershey Bears 71 14 39 53 33 4 0 3 3 0
1971-72 Hershey Bears 62 13 30 43 20 4 0 2 2 4
  AHL Totals 1069 195 686 881 455 112 16 62 78 49