Phil Sykes played hockey at the University of North Dakota from 1978 to 1982. While at school, he was named to the NCAA Championship all-tournament team in both 1980 and 1982 and the WCHA first all-star team in 1982. He was also named the NCAA's championship tournament MVP in 1982.
He signed as a free agent in 1982 with the L.A. Kings and made his NHL debut with the team in the 1982-83 season. The majority of Sykes' first two seasons were spent with the team's AHL affiliate in New Haven. He played his first full year in the NHL in 1984-85. Sykes spent seven seasons with the Kings until he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets in 1989. He spent the rest of his career in Winnipeg before hanging up his skates in 1992.