TORONTO — Corridor of Fame defenceman Borje Salming, who starred for the Toronto Maple Leafs around 16 NHL seasons and was a trailblazer for Europeans who later created their mark in the world’s major pro hockey league, has died at 71 immediately after a fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The Maple Leafs confirmed Salming’s loss of life Thursday in a statement.
Staff president Brendan Shanahan explained Salming opened the door for Europeans in the NHL.
“Borje was a pioneer of the activity and an icon with an unbreakable spirit and unquestioned toughness,” Shanahan said. “(Salming) described himself by way of his play on the ice and by his contributions to the community.”
Toronto signed Salming as a cost-free agent just before the 1973-74 year.
The native of Kiruna, Sweden, went on to participate in 1,099 standard-year video games with the Leafs, setting up group data for assists (620) and targets (148), points (768) and playoff details (49) by a defenceman.
Hockey Corridor of Famer Lanny McDonald, who was a Maple Leafs rookie in 1973, states Salming’s skill and toughness caught everyone by surprise that first season.
“Our to start with impression was ‘where did this dude occur from?’ and what a warrior he was,” mentioned McDonald, who performed seven season in Toronto. “From Working day 1, he had all the resources … and he was a fearless competitor.
“But as terrific a teammate as he was on the ice, he was the similar off the ice. He always greeted you with the massive-ass grin that informed you he was so delighted to see you.”
Leafs excellent Paul Henderson, who was an 11-12 months NHL veteran when Salming arrived in Toronto, mentioned the then 22-calendar year-old Swede was a actual physical specimen.
“He had the most effective system of any one I might at any time observed. He experienced 5 for each cent system fat and I believed, ‘Who is this male?’ Definitely his ability stage was further than reproach, he just did almost everything properly,” claimed Henderson.
“He was between the to start with of the Swedes to arrive above listed here and, man oh male. He wasn’t hefty but he was robust as all get out. He passed the puck, he did everything. He was truly impressive.”
A two-time runner-up for the Norris Trophy, getting rid of each instances to Montreal Canadiens wonderful Larry Robinson, Salming was named to the NHL’s very first all-star staff in 1976-77 and the 2nd all-star crew on five situations.
He ended his time with the Leafs with a moreover-minus rating of plus-155, a statistic built extra remarkable as the Maple Leafs were being a vastly underperforming group for substantially of the 1980s.
Salming used a 17th NHL time with the Detroit Crimson Wings right before retiring right after the 1989-90 period.
“A remarkable all-all over defenceman and the to start with Swedish star ever to perform in the league, Borje Salming was as physically and mentally challenging as he was skilfully gifted,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman claimed in a statement. “He blazed the path that several of the biggest gamers in NHL record followed although shattering all of the stereotypes about European gamers that had been widespread in a League populated pretty much entirely by North Individuals before his arrival in 1973.”
In 1996, he grew to become the 1st Swedish player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and was honoured as a single of the ‘100 Biggest NHL Players’ in 2017.
McDonald suggests handful of gamers experienced a even bigger impact on the match than Salming.
“To be in a position to establish that not only Swedish gamers — but all European gamers — could not only perform but excel in the NHL. He paved the way for so lots of players,” he claimed.
In August, Salming introduced he was identified with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also regarded as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s illness.
“I do not know how the days forward will be, but I comprehend that there will be worries better than anything at all I have ever faced,” Salming said at the time. “I also recognize that there is no cure but there are various around the globe trials likely on and there will be a get rid of a single working day.
“Because I started out actively playing ice hockey as a little child in Kiruna, and in the course of my occupation, I have given it my all. And I will continue on to do so.”
Salming was honoured before this month at a pre-match ceremony honouring this year’s Hall of Fame inductees — which bundled Swedes Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Daniel Alfredsson — before a match among the Maple Leafs and the viewing Pittsburgh Penguins. The former defenceman was flanked by fellow franchise icons Darryl Sittler and Mats Sundin.
With tears streaming down his cheeks, Sittler raised Salming’s arm so he could wave to the group.
The subsequent evening, Salming designed a last look at centre ice in advance of a Leafs video game against the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Arena.
Salming, with his family members by his aspect, been given a standing ovation from an appreciative group as a movie chronicling his vocation performed on the scoreboard just before puck fall.
Robbed of his speech and some mobility, Salming shook hands with just about every member of the Maple Leafs as he slowly departed the ice.
Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe started out an all-Swedish device against the Canucks as element of the tribute, with Leafs winger William Nylander and Canucks defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson performing the ceremonial faceoff.
“To just see how a man like Borje was embraced by the followers and just what he did for this organization in his time right here and what he still implies to the city, I imagine that puts a lot of issues into viewpoint for us as players playing in this article,” Leafs forward Auston Matthews claimed soon after the game.
“To have fellas like him and others that have paved the way for us, it implies a ton. You could just see it and feel it.”
Subsequent the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and before Salming flew back to Sweden, McDonald states he got to spend an hour laughing and reliving the glory times with aged friend and his wife Pia.
“It was just a chance to discuss about previous periods, how wonderful the weekend was and, most of all, how a great deal I loved and admired him,” he said.
A hockey icon in Sweden, Salming represented his property state at four IIHF Planet Championships, a few Canada Cups and the 1992 Winter Olympics.
He was inducted into the Global Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 1998 and, and was named to the IIHF’s Centennial All-Star Team in 2008.
This report by The Canadian Push was to start with posted Nov. 24, 2022.
The Canadian Press