Legendary NHL defenceman Börje Salming, who was a fixture on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ blue line for 16 years, has died. He was 71 years outdated.
The Maple Leafs introduced Salming’s dying Thursday afternoon.
“Börje was a pioneer of the sport and an icon with an unbreakable spirit and unquestioned toughness,” President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan stated in a press release. “He helped open the door for Europeans within the NHL and outlined himself by way of his play on the ice and thru his contributions to the neighborhood.
“Börje joined the Maple Leafs 50 years in the past and can endlessly 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 was recognized with the progressive nervous system illness amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s illness, earlier this yr. He had been receiving therapy in his native Sweden.
A pioneering European star from the northern Swedish city of Kiruna, Salming performed 1,099 video games with the Leafs and ranks fourth among the many group’s profession scoring leaders with 768 factors.
In 1997, he was voted one of many 100 best gamers in NHL historical past by a panel that included former gamers, coaches, executives and media members.
Salming’s quantity 21 hangs within the rafters at Scotiabank Area, after it was retired in 2016 alongside different Leafs greats like Dave Keon, Johnny Bower and Doug Gilmour. He was additionally the fourth former Maple Leaf to be immortalized with a statue within the group’s Legends Row in Maple Leafs Sq., alongside icons like Bower, Darryl Sittler and Ted Kennedy.
Emotional remaining tribute in Toronto
His significance to the Maple Leafs and town of Toronto was exemplified by emotional tributes and standing ovations earlier this month, as he attended video games in Toronto for the final time.
Salming, along with his household and former teammates by his facet, acquired a roar of applause from an appreciative crowd as a video chronicling his profession performed on the scoreboard earlier than puck drop.
Robbed of his speech and a few mobility, Salming shook palms with each member of the Maple Leafs as he slowly departed the ice.
WATCH | Salming receives emotional ovation from Leafs followers:
Salming’s robust two-way play made him considered one of hockey’s elite defencemen. He was additionally probably the most in style gamers in group historical past.
“Sporting the Toronto Maple Leaf sweater for 16 seasons was an awesome honour,” Salming stated partly in a press release made upon the announcement of his statue in 2014.
“I all the time look again on my time in Toronto with fondness and benefit from the likelihood to go to each likelihood I get.”
Former Maple Leafs captain and countryman Mats Sundin beforehand stated that each Swede respects Salming and holds him in excessive esteem for his wealth of accomplishments.
“For us — Swedish hockey gamers — he’s the person who confirmed us the correct means; he’s a trailblazer,” Sundin stated.
Although European gamers are actually commonplace within the NHL and among the many league’s largest stars, that wasn’t all the time the case. Beginning again in 1973, Salming helped open doorways to North American hockey for his countrymen — who hockey followers as soon as regarded down upon with the infantile nickname “hen Swedes” — due to stereotypes that they could not sustain with the physicality of the North American sport.
Salming helped annihilate that stereotype by not simply surviving however thriving within the NHL, incomes the nickname “King.” In 16 seasons with the group earlier than a remaining season within the league with the Detroit Crimson Wings, Salming amassed a team-record 620 assists, alongside 148 targets.
He was additionally named to the league’s first all-star group as soon as and 5 instances on the second all-star group, which was additionally a group document. He got here simply shy of sufficient votes for the Norris Trophy because the league’s finest defenceman in 1980.
It’s with a heavy coronary heart we acknowledge the passing of Börje Salming. We thank him and his household for his or her braveness in serving to to boost consciousness of the truth of ALS and for creating a long-lasting contribution to the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ALS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>#ALS</a> neighborhood. Our ideas are with them. <a href=”https://t.co/YsB1vTJkYU”>https://t.co/YsB1vTJkYU</a>
In a press release Thursday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman referred to as Salming the primary Swedish star to play within the league, and as “bodily and mentally robust as he was skillfully gifted.
“He blazed the path that most of the best gamers in NHL historical past adopted whereas shattering the entire stereotypes about European gamers that had been prevalent in a League populated nearly fully by North Individuals earlier than his arrival in 1973,” Bettman stated.
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