The Toronto Maple Leafs legendary defenseman Börje Salming announced on Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with ALS. Salming, 71, spent 16 seasons in Toronto and is one of the best players in franchise history.
Salming announced his diagnosis in an official statement through the team. The former Maple Leafs defenseman said that, despite the long battle facing him, he will remain positive throughout the experience.
"I have received news that has shaken my family and me," Salming said. "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."
Salming made his debut for the Maple Leafs in the 1973-74 season, and he became an instant star. That year, he finished third in voting for the Calder Trophy, and he finished fifth in voting for the Norris Trophy.
Throughout his long tenure in Toronto, Salming would establish himself as one of the premier defensemen in Maple Leafs history. In 1,099 games with the Maple Leafs, Salming racked up 148 goals, 620 assists, and 768 points.
Salming never won the Norris Trophy, but he finished near the top of the ballot regularly. He did earn first-team NHL All-Star honors in 1977, and Salming earned second-team honors five times throughout his career.
Salming finished his NHL career with the New Jersey Devils, playing 49 games for them in the 1989-90 season.
In 1996, Salming became the first Swedish player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2016, the Maple Leafs retired Salming's No. 21, along with 12 other numbers worn by key players throughout franchise history.