When Hall of Famer Börje Salming got diagnosed with ALS this summer, his wife, Pia Salming, told Darryl Sittler about it. Sittler, former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, immediately reached out to another former teammate, Mark Kirton.
Kirton played with Salming and Sittler in the late 70s and early 80s and was also diagnosed with ALS four years ago. Since then, Kirton has been instrumental in guiding the Salming family through the difficulty of the disease.
Kirton was also one of the reasons the Salming family decided to go public with his diagnosis.
“Mark Kirton was awesome at that,” said Sittler, per Sportsnet. “He encouraged Börje to get it out there.”
Börje Salming was in Toronto earlier this month to receive love and support from his former home fans. He was honored before two Toronto games during the Hall of Fame weekend, and many tears were shed.
Last week, Salming was also on stage during the Swedish gala celebration of 100 years of Swedish hockey. He was given a standing ovation as he was presented with the NHL’s Honorary Award.
When Salming was in Toronto, he got to hang out with several former teammates, but one meeting perhaps meant more than others.
A video published by Mark Kirton shows how he and Börje Salming met during the Hall of Fame weekend, and they both shared an emotional and special moment.
“2 ALS warriors meet there’s a bond that is difficult to describe. Add former teammate to mix & its over the top. Last Sat/leaf game love could be seen in everyone’s eyes. A memory never to be forgotten!” Kirton wrote.
In the video, Kirton and Salming cry as they share a hug.
In the comment section, Kirton and Salming are praised for sharing such a personal moment.
One person said: “Sadly beautiful, poignant, & brutal all at once.”
Another said: “My heart goes out to these two greats.”