Leafs Nation Devastated By News Of Legend Borje Salming's Illness

Toronto Maple Leafs legendary defenseman Borje Salming has been diagnosed with ALS. 

The 71-year-old Salming revealed the news in a statement issued by the Leafs.

“I have received news that has shaken my family and me. The signs that indicated that something was wrong in my body turned out to be the disease ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In an instant, everything changed. I do not know how the days ahead will be, but I understand that there will be challenges greater than anything I have ever faced.

“I also recognize that there is no cure but there are numerous worldwide trials going on and there will be a cure one day. In the meantime, there are treatments available to slow the progression and my family and I will remain positive.

“Since I started playing ice hockey as a little kid in Kiruna, and throughout my career, I have given it my all. And I will continue to do so.”

Salming played 16 seasons with the Leafs, from 1973 to 1989, and in addition to being one of the most talented, was one of the toughest players on the ice. Though he never won the James Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman, he easily could have, if not for some guy named Bobby Orr being his contemporary. 

Salming registered 768 points in 1,099 games in the blue and white, and was the first Swedish player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Leafs PR Director and general manager during Salming's career, Gord Stellick, had this to say:

"How fortunate I was to watch first hand all the greatness of Borje Salming on the ice for almost every game through thick and thin in his NHL career. What a treasure he has been to know off the ice! Hall of Fame person as well!"

And that, Salming certainly is. 

Prayers and wishes are with him and his family to stay strong as they battle this terrible disease.

Photo: Frankie Fouganthin, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons