Toronto Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming has passed on at the age of 71.
Ravaged by the onset of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Salming died at 71 on Thursday in Sweden, the club announced in a joint statement with his family.
“Börje was a pioneer of the game and an icon with an unbreakable spirit and unquestioned toughness,” President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan said in a statement.
“He helped open the door for Europeans in the NHL and defined himself through his play on the ice and through his contributions to the community.
“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 Theresa, Anders, Rasmus, Bianca, Lisa and Sara, and brother Stieg.”
In 1973, with the door just opening for talent across the Atlantic following the Summit Series with Russia, the Leafs were the first to take advantage, bringing over Salming and countryman Inge Hammarstrom.
In 16 seasons, he set many franchise records, including most assists (620), third-most games (1,099) and nominations to the first and second NHL all-star teams.
In 1997, he was voted one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history by a panel that included former players, coaches, executives and media members.
He had the most goals (148), points (768) and playoff points (49) by a defenceman and was a two-time runner-up for the Norris Trophy.