Toronto Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming has died at the age of 71, the team announced on Thursday.
Salming has been battling ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that affects voluntary muscles, and recently lost the ability to speak. During his tribute during the Hall of Fame weekend earlier this month, Salming was accompanied by fellow Maple Leafs legends Mats Sundin and Darryl Sittler, who helped him raise his hands to the Toronto crowd in appreciation.
Salming was one of the preeminent defensemen of his generation and became the first Swedish player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996. He has been an inspiration to several generations of Swedish players, including 2022 Hall of Famers Henrik and Daniel Sedinov. and Daniel Alfredsson.
He made his debut with the Maple Leafs in the 1973-74 season and, along with Sittler, served as the face of the franchise during the darkest days in the team’s history. An attacking Dynamo player who was equally competent in his field, Salming made six All-Star appearances in his illustrious career. He scored 148 goals and 768 points for the Maple Leafs and played his final season with the Detroit Red Wings in 1988–89.
The Toronto Maple Leafs mourn the loss of Berje Salming. the team said in a statement. “Beurier was a pioneer of the game and an icon with an unbreakable spirit and undeniable resilience. He helped open the doors to Europeans in the NHL and established himself through his on-ice play and his contributions to society.
“Beurier joined the Maple Leafs 50 years ago and will forever be part of our hockey family. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Pia, his children Teresa, Anders, Rasmus, Bianca, Lisa and Sarah, and brother Stig.”
Affectionately nicknamed “The King”, Salming was named one of the 100 Greatest Players in NHL History in 2017 and was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1998.
Salming was one of the best players in the history of the Maple Leafs, and this is an invaluable loss for the franchise. He was both affable and media-weary, paving the way for the next generation of European superstars.
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