It’s impossible to capture what legendary defenceman Borje Salming meant to not only the Toronto Maple Leafs and the broader NHL, but the entire hockey world.
A touching tribute in his native Swedish Hockey League on Thursday, however, perhaps exemplifies just a sliver of the reverence the Kiruna native was held in back home.
During a game between Brynas IF and Leksands IF, fans showed their love midway through the second period when they began chanting the Hockey Hall of Famers name impromptu.
Publiken ger Börje Salming en fin hyllning. pic.twitter.com/OOeVCxx9tX
— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) November 24, 2022
While the game was played in Leksands, Salming does hold a particularly special place in the heart of visiting Brynas fans. Prior to being noticed by then-Toronto Maple Leafs scout Gerry McNamara, Salming had played his three prior seasons with the club between 1970-1973, winning titles in 1971 and 1972.
Sweden’s defenceman of the year award also bears Salming’s name. In 1996, he also became the first Swedish and European player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Across the Swedish hockey league, moments of silence were held before the second period of action since news of his death arrived after puck-drop.
Minute of silence at all seven SHL games, prior to the start of the second periods. News about Börje Salming's passing came after that the round of games had started at 19:00 Swedish time. Me knowingly, the first time games are interrupted to pay tribute to a national hero. https://t.co/g8e8ZPWLi6
— Szymon Szemberg (@Sz1909_Szemberg) November 24, 2022
In the wake of Salming’s tragic death at age 71 due to ALS, tributes from around the hockey world have made their way to the Salming family. From former teammates to voices beyond the hockey world, the man affectionately known as "The King" touched many hearts over the years.
Heartbroken fans from across Twitter also shared their condolences, and what Salming meant for them.
This photograph of Börje Salming playing against my uncle, Dave Hudson, was recently dug up. I love it. pic.twitter.com/Un7AuM1Ixc
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) November 25, 2022
— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) November 25, 2022
Heartbreaking, the hockey world lost a legend. Rest In Peace Börje Salming. 💙🤍 pic.twitter.com/T4YF6tPcTs
— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) November 24, 2022
It’s the final few days of shooting on the set of the Salming movie. It’s going to be even sadder than it already was before. He didn’t get to Kitchener but he did make it to Maple Leaf Gardens. #leafnation #sweden #hockey #teamsweden #toronto pic.twitter.com/g6KlqKE2c8
— Hockeytoronto.com (@hockeytoronto) November 24, 2022
“Börje Salming was my big hero growing up” - Nicklas Lidström
“As a teammate of Börje’s, he was as tough as anybody” - Darryl Sittler
The NHL Alumni Association is heartbroken to learn that Börje Salming has passed away after his courageous battle with ALS. pic.twitter.com/b6TpkXp5CQ
— NHL Alumni (@NHLAlumni) November 25, 2022
Salming spent 16 of his 17 NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs, compiling 787 points over 1,148 career regular-season games, which ranks sixth all-time among Swedish players. He holds six Maple Leafs records, including most assists, goals, points and playoff points by a defenceman, along with most career assists and best plus-minus.
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