May 24, 2016

Phil Sykes

Phil Sykes, nicknamed Psycho as a play on his last name, survived in the NHL for parts of 10 seasons. In that time he collected 456 games player, 79 goals, 85 assists for 164 points. He added 3 assists in 26 playoff games as well.

Sykes, born in northern British Columbia, Sykes played for the University of North Dakota where he was part of two NCAA championships - one in 1980 and one in 1982. Both years he was named to the All Tournament team, and in 1982, his Senior year, he was named as the NCAA Championship MVP.

University hockey was still being dismissed as a true development source by the NHL even as late as 1982, although it was becoming more and more accepted. As a result, Phil was never drafted by the National Hockey League. He instead shopped his services around and signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings on April 5, 1982.

Sykes spent the next two years apprenticing in the minors, being called up for just 10 games of major league duty. By 1984-85 he had earned a full time roster spot, scoring 17 goals and 32 points. The following year he improved to 20 goals and 44 assists, modest totals for that era. His -26 was indicative of how poor his team was at the time.

That proved to be the best year statistically for Sykes. For the next three years he would see his role reduced to a 4th liner. Injuries hampered his game played totals significantly , and by the 1988-89 season, Sykes found himself back in the minor leagues.

His demotion was not for a lack of effort. Phil was a hard worker with tremendous work ethic. He was a popular player in the dressing room and was a coachable player. He was willing to do the glamour-less roles such as penalty killing and defensive 4th liner. He was an average skater with a weak shot, but he had decent puck skills and good anticipation.

Sykes began the 1989-90 season back in the minor leagues with the AHL New Haven Nighthawks and worked hard, hoping that someone if not the Kings themselves would reward him for his work. That reward came in the form of an early Christmas present, as on December 1, 1989 he was traded to Winnipeg in exchange for inexperienced speedball Brad Jones.

Sykes finished the season with Winnipeg, and played two more years in Manitoba. He added a nice veteran presence to the Jets.

Sykes retired at the end of the 1991-92 season.

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