“I received news that shook me and my family,” said Salming, who in the 1970s was one of the pioneers of the era of European players coming to the NHL and after transferring from Gävle, Sweden, soon became one of the best defenders in the entire NHL.
“The symptoms that indicated something was wrong with my body turned out to be ALS. In an instant, everything changed. I don’t know what the next few days will be like, but I understand that there are bigger challenges ahead of me than anything I’ve faced before,” said Salming, who headed to Detroit for one more season in 1989 after 16 years in Toronto. Salming moved to Toronto in 1973 and played a total of 1,148 games in the NHL and scored 150 goals and 637 assists.
Today, Maple Leafs great Börje Salming shared a statement (below) on his health.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and all their fans around the world are sending you their love and support, Börje.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) August 10, 2022
“I realize there is no cure (for ALS), but there are numerous trials going on worldwide and one day there will be a cure. Until then, treatment methods are available to slow the progression of the disease. My family and I will stay positive,” said Salming, who was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 1996 and the IIHF two years later.
“From the moment I started playing hockey as a little boy in Kiruna, I gave it my all throughout my career. And I will continue to do so. I am sure that I have a loving family around me and the best possible medical care,” said the owner of bronze from the 1972 WC in Prague and silver won a year later at the championship in Moscow, where he also became a member of the All-Star team.
“I understand that many of you would like to reach out to me now, but I kindly ask that you respect our privacy during these difficult times. Please keep us in your prayers. I will let you know when the time is right and I understand more about my condition and future path. Until then, we kindly refrain from all contact. I hope you understand and respect our decision,” concluded Salming.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease of the motor neurons of the brain and spinal cord, causing degeneration and loss of central nervous system cells that control volitional muscle movements. This leads to gradual muscle weakness and even atrophy. The patient remains paralyzed, while maintaining psychic and mental abilities. The causes of the disease have not yet been sufficiently clarified.
Marián Čiśovský, the former Slovak defender of football club Pilsen, succumbed to this disease two years ago.