Toronto Maple Leafs legend Börje Salming dies at 71

Börje Salming, a true legend of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is dead. The Swedish icon was diagnosed with ALS this summer, and during this autumn, his family has spoken openly about his tough battle with the disease.

In August, Salming revealed that he had lost his speaking ability and needed a feeding tube. Salming was in Toronto this November, with his family, for an honoring in front of the Toronto Maple Leafs home fans.

170116 Börje Salming med hustru Pia under Idrottsgalan den 16 januari 2017 i Stockholm. Foto: Andreas L Eriksson / Bildbyrån / kod AE / Cop 106

He was honored on one night together with former Maple Leafs captains Darryl Sittler and Mats Sundin, and a lot of tears were shed. The day after, Börje, with his closest family, was on center ice to receive yet another standing ovation and honoring.

Börje Salming played 16 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and has his Nr. 21 in the rafters. Börje Salming was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 as the first Swedish player. Salming was one of the first Swedes in the NHL and played during an era when hockey was way tougher than today.

And as a Swede, Salming was always a target. Nevertheless, Salming won the hockey fans in North America over and is a true legend of the game.

On Thursday, it was announced that he’s passed away at 71. 

”The Toronto Maple Leafs mourn the loss of Börje Salming. Börje was a pioneer of the game and an icon with an unbreakable spirit and unquestioned toughness. He helped open the door for Europeans in the NHL and defined himself through his play on the ice and though his contributions to the community,” Brendan Shanahan, Maple Leafs president and alternate governor, said in a statement.

”Börje joined the Maple Leafs 50 years ago and will forever be a part of our hockey family. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Pia, his children Theresea, Anders, Rasmus, Bianca, Lisa and Sara and brother Stieg.”

Börje Salming still holds several impressive records for the Maple Leafs franchise, including such as most assists and most points as an defenseman.

Rest in peace, Börje.