Mike Nykoluk was a fine playmaking right-winger who suited up for 32 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1956-57. Most of his playing career was spent with the Hershey Bears of the AHL where he became one of the most productive scorers in league history. Nykoluk was also an accomplished assistant coach who served as the bench boss of the Toronto Maple Leafs at one time.
The Toronto native starred for two seasons with the OHA's Toronto Marlboros where he captained a Memorial Cup champion 1955. He spent a year with the WHL's Winnipeg Warriors before joining the Maple Leafs for half a season. Nykoluk spent a little over a year with the Rochester Americans before his rights were acquired from Toronto by Hershey.
Nykoluk spent 14 years with the Bears and helped the team win the Calder Cup in 1959 and 1969. When he retired in 1972, he stood as the fourth highest scorer in league history and had the second highest number of playoff assists. The Bears honoured him by retiring his "number 8" jersey. Among his other accomplishments was leading the AHL in assists in 1967 and 1968 and was named to the league's first and second all-star team once each and was the recipient of the Les Cunningham Award in 1967 as league MVP.
During the 1970s Nykoluk was the NHL's first prominent assistant coach with his friend Fred Shero. He was on hand when the Philadelphia Flyers won consecutive Stanley Cup sin 1974 and 1975 and later joined Shero with the Rangers when the team reached the finals in 1979.
Nykoluk initially resisted offers from Toronto owner Harold Ballard to coach the team. After leaving the Rangers he took a job as a radio colour commentator and was in a prime position to take over the floundering club part way through the 1980-81 season. He coached Maple Leafs until the end of the 1983-84 season but was caught in the wind storm that surrounded the team under the Ballard dictatorship.