October 08, 2015

Mike Nykoluk

Many will remember Mike Nykoluk as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the early 1980s. Or as Fred Shero's assistant coach in Philadelphia (winning Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975) and New York before that.

But did you know Mike Nykoluk once played for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Or that he was a Hall of Fame player at the AHL level?

A graduate of the Toronto Marlies junior team that won the Memorial Cup in 1955, Nykoluk played 32 games with the Leafs in the 1956-57 season, scoring three goals and four points in limited duty. He was demoted to the minor leagues, never to return.

After two seasons with Rochester, Nykoluk joined the Hershey Bears in 1958. He became noted as one of the best playmakers in the AHL over the next 14 seasons. In 1069 career AHL games played Nykoluk scored 195 goals, 686 assists and 881 points. Not once did he reach 20 goals in a season, but he did hit the impressive 50 assists mark seven consecutive seasons and twice led the entire AHL in helpers.

Nykoluk led Hershey to Calder Cup championships in 1959 and 1969. In 1966-67 he was named as the AHL's Most Valuable Player. The next season he had his highest offensive numbers, scoring 19 goals and 85 points.

Nykoluk retired in 1972 as the Bears’ all-time leader in games played (972), assists (636) and points (808). His number 8 has been retired by the team.

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