HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — Mike Nykoluk was known as “The Big Bear” to Hershey Bears fans, playing 14 years for the franchise. The long-time player and former Philadelphia Flyers coach passed away this week. He was 87 years old.

Nykoluk is the all-time leader in games played (972), assists (636) and points (808) for the Hershey Bears. The talented playmaker was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007, and was part of Hershey’s inaugural 2012 Hall of Fame Class. 

His time in Chocolatetown was marked by winning two Calder Cup Championships in 1959 and 1969. He was with the franchise for 1958-1972. Nykoluk was named the AHL’s Most Valuable Player in 1966-67.

He recorded 50-plus assists in seven straight season from 1963-70, leading the league twice in that stretch. His 686 career assists rank Nykoluk third in the AHL all-time. He is also sixth with 881 points and fifth with 1,069 games played, despite retiring in 1972.

His 16-year playing career started as a member of the inaugural Rochester Americans club in 1956-57, when he also played 32 NHL games for the Toronto Maple Leafs that same season.

After his playing career, Nykoluk became the first assistant coach in the NHL with Philadelphia. The Flyers won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975. From there, Nyoluk spent three seasons as the head coach of his hometown Maple Leafs.

The Bears plan to honor Nykoluk prior to Wednesday’s game versus Hartford at GIANT Center.