IG news Update,
Toronto Maple Leafs legend Borje Salling passed away after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was 71 years old.
The team released a statement on Thursday announcing the death on behalf of the Salming family, saying he was a “pioneer and icon of the sport with unwavering spirit and undeniable toughness.”
Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan wrote, “He helped open the door for Europeans in the NHL and defined himself through his play on the ice and his contributions to the community.”
“Borje joined the Maple Leafs 50 years ago and will always be a part of our hockey family. We express our deepest condolences to his wife Pia, their children Theresa, Anders, Rasmus, Bianka, Lisa and Sarah, and brother Stig.
Salming announced in August that he had been diagnosed with ALS.
“I have received news that has shaken my family and me,” he said at the time. “The signs that indicated something was wrong with my body were ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
Salming, who played 16 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1973 to 1989 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996, said he believes there is currently no cure for ALS.
“In an instant, everything changed. I don’t know how the coming days will be, but I understand that there will be challenges bigger than anything I have ever faced.”
ALS is a progressive nervous system disease that leads to paralysis, inability to swallow, respiratory failure, and eventually death.
Earlier this month, the former Leafs defenseman along with former players Daryl Sittler and Matt Sundin were honored by the franchise in an emotional moment.
Mayor John Tory offered his condolences to Salming’s family, loved ones and Toronto hockey fans following news of his passing.
Tory said, “From Sweden to Toronto, ‘The King’ will be remembered for the incredible impact he had on our city.” a statement Thursday. “I’m grateful he was able to be here on the ice earlier this month for such a courageous and loving moment.”
Salling’s #21 jersey hangs in the rafters at Scotiabank Arena. His number is the only one of 19 Leafs to have retired.
Outside of the Leafs, Salling played for Sweden in four IIHF World Championships, three Canada Cups, and the 1992 Winter Olympics.
With files from Sean Davidson of CTV News Toronto