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|