It was a memorable evening in Sweden on Thursday. Swedish hockey celebrated 100 years, and the place was packed with legends. During the special gala, the All-Star team of the century was announced, and former Detroit Red Wings captain Nickas Lidström won several awards for his contribution to Swedish hockey.
Lidström won the All-Time best defenseman and the All-Time best player and was also a big part of the team, prized as the best Swedish team of all time, for winning the Olympic Gold in 2006.
Peter Forsberg won the All-Time best forward, but it was mostly a night honoring Börje Salming. The iconic defenseman played 16 years with the Toronto Maple Leafs and is now going through the battle of his life with the disease ALS.
Since getting his diagnosis, Salming has lost the ability to speak and eat, and when he was in Toronto last week, he was in a wheelchair.
Salming was honored by the Maple Leafs and its fans during two home games, and it was an emotional moment as Salming and former captain Darryl Sittler cried together on center ice.
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On Thursday, Salming was elected to the All-Star team of the century, but he was also presented with the NHL’s Honorary Award. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was in Stockholm to present Salming with the award.
After an amazing effort by Salming to make it to the stage, accompanied by his family, he received the biggest ovation of the night. The standing ovation continued for almost ten minutes, and when cameras panned out, almost everyone cried. Peter Forsberg and Nicklas Lidström were deeply moved as they clapped their hands for one of the most trailblazing players in hockey history.
Before Salming left the stage, he shaped a heart with his hands to send some love in the best way he could. After the gala, Börje Salming’s wife told the media that Börje isn’t doing more public appearances.
”We’re not doing this anymore. We’re shutting the door, now it’s all about family,” Pia said.
Pia Salming also explained just how Börje Salming had the energy to make public appearances both in Toronto and Stockholm.
” It’s his personality. He’s really tired, but this is the last thing we’re doing. But it’s so important to him. It’s how he is as a person.”
The NHL’s award included the official original game sheets of Börje Salming’s first and last games in the NHL.
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