A ceremony honoring Leafs' legend Börje Salming ahead of a Nov. 12 game.

Toronto Maple Leafs’ legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Börje Salming has passed away at 71. The Leafs announced that news Thursday:

Salming, a 6’1”, 209-pound defenseman from Salmi, Sweden, was one of the first prominent European players in the NHL. He joined the Leafs as  a free agent ahead of the 1973-74 season, when he was 22 and had already played three seasons in Sweden’s top division. He went on to play 1,099 regular-season games with the Leafs through 1988-89, setting franchise records for assists (620) and goals (148), points (768) and playoff points (49) by a defenseman.

Salming then finished his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings in 1989-90, then played three more years in Sweden. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 for his play with Toronto and the Swedish national team, the latter of which saw him one of six players elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation Centennial team. That team, announced in 2008, featured Salming alongside Canada’s Wayne Gretzky at center and four Soviet Union players:  Vladislav Tretiak in goal, Viacheslav Fetisov on defense, and Valeri Kharlamov and Sergei Makarov on the wings.

The passing of Salming comes after his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He announced that he was battling that disease in August. The Leafs honored Salming ahead of a Nov. 12 game against the Vancouver Canucks; he’s seen at center above with his wife Pia during that pre-game ceremony.

Beyond his status as a Hall of Famer, Salming made an impact on many throughout the hockey world in numerous ways, including with his play for club and country. And many tributes poured in for him after Thursday’s news. Here are some of those:

Salming will certainly be missed, and he adds to the long list of those in the sports world who have passed away after battles with ALS. His impact on hockey will long be remembered.

[NHL.com]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.