Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming dies, was living with ALS

Borje Salming, legendary NHL defenseman and trailblazer of European-born gamers in North America, has died. He was 71 years previous and had been identified with ALS earlier this 12 months.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, for whom Salming performed the majority of his profession, launched a press release Thursday to announce Salming’s passing.

“The Toronto Maple Leafs mourn the lack of Börje Salming,” mentioned Brendan Shanahan, Leafs president and alternate governor. “Börje was a pioneer of the sport and an icon with an unbreakable spirit and unquestioned toughness. He helped open the door for Europeans within the NHL and outlined himself by means of his play on the ice and thru his contributions to the group.

Börje joined the Maple Leafs 50 years in the past and can without end be part of our hockey household. We prolong our deepest condolences to his spouse, Pia, his kids Theresa, Anders, Rasmus, Bianca, Lisa and Sara and brother Stieg.”

Salming’s embellished NHL profession spanned 17 seasons from 1973 to 1990 between Toronto and Detroit, with a résumé boasting 1,148 video games and 787 factors. A two-time runner-up for the Norris Trophy, Salming grew to become the primary Swedish-born participant to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 and two years later entered the IIHF Hall of Fame. The blueliner was an NHL first-team All-Star in 1977 and a five-time NHL second-team All-Star between 1975 and 1980.

For 16 of his 17 NHL campaigns, Salming was “The King” of Toronto, patrolling the Maple Leafs’ blue line with a physicality and grit that flew within the face of widespread stereotypes that Swedish skaters like himself had been too smooth to make it within the Bruising NHL. Salming made a direct impression when Leafs scout Gerry McNamara noticed him taking part in abroad in 1973. McNamara was in Sweden to scout Inge Hammarstrom; he wound up signing Salming to a free agent deal as a substitute.

The defender rapidly grew to become a fan favourite in Toronto and embraced his recognition there. In January 1998, Salming grew to become the primary European-born participant to achieve the 1,000-game mark. The following 12 months, Salming signed a one-year free agent deal with the Red Wings to complete his profession. Salming’s legacy in Toronto because the franchise’s defensive chief in assists (620) and factors (760) remained, although, and his No. 21 has since been retired by the group.

After retiring, Salming remained an energetic a part of the hockey group, which was devastated to study of his ALS analysis in August. A progressive illness of the nervous system, ALS impacts cells within the mind and spinal wire and results in lack of muscle management. Salming initially started experiencing signs in February, and his well being quickly declined from there. Last month, Salming revealed that he had misplaced the flexibility to talk.

Despite his sickness, Salming’s resolve remained intact. He was decided to attend the Hall of Fame weekend in Toronto earlier this month when three extra Swedish gamers can be inducted. Salming made it, and the Maple Leafs honored him with a pregame tribute forward of their recreation towards Vancouver. An overcome Salming got here to the ice surrounded by household to absorb the standing ovation. The ceremonial puck drop was carried out by Swedish-born Oliver Ekman-Larsson and William Nylander, and Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe crafted a beginning lineup that featured all six of Toronto’s Swedish-born gamers.

That was the second occasion in as many nights the place Salming was acknowledged. The night time earlier than, on the annual Hall of Fame recreation between Toronto and Pittsburgh, Salming was helped to the ice by good buddy and former teammate Darryl Sittler, who broke down in tears watching Salming cheered on by the sector. Salming met with Sittler in September and mentioned he wished to be in Toronto for the weekend that will function three Swedish-born inductees: Vancouver’s Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson.

Salming was a pioneer in each sense, making it doable for European gamers of immediately to thrive within the North American realm.

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