Legendary NHL defenseman Börje Salming, who was a fixture on the Toronto Maple Leafs blue line for 16 years, has died. He was 71 years previous.
The Maple Leafs introduced Salming’s demise Thursday afternoon.
“Börje was a pioneer within the recreation and an icon of unbreakable spirit and unquestionable toughness,” President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan mentioned in an announcement. “He helped open the door for Europeans within the NHL and defined himself via his play on the ice and thru his contribution to the neighborhood.
“Börje joined the Maple Leafs 50 years in the past and can perpetually be a part of our hockey household. Our deepest condolences to his spouse, Pia, his youngsters Theresa, Anders, Rasmus, Bianca , Lisa and Sara, and his brother Stieg.”
Salmadh was recognized with the progressive nervous system illness amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s illness, earlier this 12 months. He had been receiving remedy in his native Sweden.
A rising 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 members of the media.
Salming’s quantity 21 hangs within the rafters at Scotiabank Area, having retired it in 2016 together with fellow Leafs like Dave Keon, Johnny Bower and Doug Gilmour. He was additionally the fourth Maple Leaf to be immortalized with a statue within the group’s Legends Row in Maple Leafs Sq., together with icons corresponding to Bower, Darryl Sittler and Ted Kennedy.
Emotional closing suggestions in Toronto
His significance to the Maple Leafs and town of Toronto was clear throughout an emotional tribute and standing ovation earlier this month, as he attended video games in Toronto for the final time.
Salming, flanked by his household and teammates, obtained applause from appreciative crowds at two separate video games. Throughout a really poignant second earlier than a recreation between the Leafs and the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, fellow Leaf colleague Sittler tearfully lifted Salming’s arm to make sure he might transfer to the group of hundreds.
Sittler instructed CBC Information that he knew these video games could be the final time he ever received to see his teammate and good friend.
“It was a magical second. Individuals who watched that, and the individuals who participated in it, will do not forget that for the remainder of their lives,” he mentioned.
WATCH | Salming receives emotional tribute from Leafs followers:
Stealing from his speech and a few motion, Salming shook palms with all members of the Maple Leafs as he slowly left the ice in his final look with the group, earlier than the second recreation in opposition to the Vancouver Canucks .
Former teammate and NHL nice Lanny McDonald instructed CBC Information it was a “present” for Salming’s household to have the ability to see precisely what he was wanting as much as when he was celebrated in Toronto on his this month.
“It was an honor for him to have the ability to have his household perceive how a lot everybody cherished and revered him,” McDonald mentioned.
“Greater than something he was an important teammate, each on and off the ice.”
Salming’s robust two-way play made him considered one of hockey’s elite defensemen. He was additionally some of the in style gamers in group historical past.
“It was an important honor to put on the Toronto Maple Leaf jersey for 16 seasons,” Salming mentioned partly in an announcement made when his statue was introduced in 2014.
“I’ll at all times look again on my time in Toronto with fondness and relish the chance to go to each likelihood I get. “
Former Maple Leafs captain and countryman Mats Sundin beforehand mentioned that each one Swedes respect Salming and have nice respect for his wealth of achievements.
“For us – Swedish hockey gamers – he’s the person who confirmed us the fitting method; he is a genius,” Sundin mentioned.
Whereas European gamers are actually commonplace within the NHL and among the many league’s largest stars, that wasn’t at all times the case. Beginning again in 1973, Salming helped open the doorways to North American hockey for his countrymen – as soon as regarded down upon by hockey followers with the infantile nickname “hen Swedes” ” – due to stereotypes that they might not sustain with the North American company. recreation
WATCH | NHL legend Lanny McDonald remembers his good friend and companion:
Salming helped dispel that stereotype by not solely surviving however thriving within the NHL, incomes the nickname “King.” In 16 seasons with the group earlier than a closing season within the league with the Detroit Purple Wings, Salming collected a group document 620 assists, together with 148 targets.
“When Borje got here [to the NHL], he was a goal. The sport was completely different then,” Sittler mentioned. Within the bathe after video games, it was apparent how a lot abuse Salming had taken, he mentioned, with the variety of bruises and cuts throughout his physique. .
“The subsequent evening he would simply return out and do it once more,” Sittler mentioned.
“He had a love and fervour for the sport like no different.”
Salming was additionally named to the league’s first all-star group as soon as and to the second all-star group 5 instances, which was additionally a group document. He got here simply shy of sufficient votes for the Norris Trophy because the league’s greatest defenseman in 1980.
In an announcement Thursday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman known as Salming the primary Swedish star to play within the league, and as “bodily and mentally robust and a talented expertise.
“He blazed a path that lots of the best gamers in NHL historical past adopted whereas breaking all of the stereotypes about European gamers that had been widespread in a League that was nearly fully North American.” utterly earlier than he received to 1973,” Bettman mentioned.