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Börje Salming
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1996
Salming in 2012
Born (1951-04-17)17 April 1951
Salmi, Sweden
Died 24 November 2022(2022-11-24) (aged 71)
Nacka, Sweden
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 209 lb (95 kg; 14 st 13 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Left
Played for
National team Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden
NHL Draft Undrafted
Playing career 1967–1993
Medal record
Representing Sweden Sweden
Men's ice hockey
World Championships
Silver 1973 Soviet Union
Bronze 1972 Czechoslovakia

Anders Börje Salming ( 17 April 1951 – 24 November 2022) was a Swedish ice hockey player. He was a defenceman who played professionally for 23 seasons, for the clubs Brynäs IF, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, and AIK. He spent 16 seasons with the Maple Leafs, who retired his number 21 in 2016. Salming holds several Maple Leafs records, including the most assists. Salming also played extensively for Sweden in international competitions, winning two World Championship medals.

Salming was one of the first European players to make an impact in the National Hockey League (NHL), for which he is often considered a trailblazer, being named to six consecutive NHL All-Star Teams. In 1996, his first year of eligibility, Salming became the first European player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2017, the NHL named Salming one of the 100 Greatest Players in the first century of the league.

Salming was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in July 2022. He died on 24 November 2022, days after accepting an award in what his wife announced on his behalf would be the family's final public appearance.

Early life

Salming was born on 17 April 1951 in the village of Salmi in what is now Kiruna Municipality, near Torneträsk in Jukkasjärvi Parish. His father, Erland (1921–1956), was of Sami origin, while his mother, Karin (née Persson, 1927-2022), is Swedish. His paternal grandfather Anders Nikolaus had the surname of Sarri, but changed it to Salming after the village that he and his father (Börje's great-grandfather) had built up. His father was a miner who died in a mining accident when Salming was 5 years old.

Salming identified himself as indigenous Sámi and was included in the electoral roll for Sametinget. He also shared his experiences growing up as indigenous in his native Kiruna and supported the struggle for Indigenous peoples' human rights on national TV. As a reflection of his Sámi heritage, Salming often wore a traditional Sami pewter bracelet.

The Salming family resided close to a ice skating hall called Matojärvi hall where Börje started skating at the age of 6.

Playing career

Swedish leagues

Salming played with Kiruna AIF in Sweden's Division 2 from 1967 to 1970 before joining Brynäs in the top division between 1970 and 1973. Brynäs won league championships in 1971 and 1972 with Salming on the squad. The team's success attracted attention from Toronto Maple Leafs scout Gerry McNamara, who was initially sent to investigate Inge Hammarström, but was more impressed by Salming after seeing him play. The Maple Leafs signed Salming as a free agent on 12 May 1973.

After leaving the National Hockey League (NHL) he completed his pro hockey career with AIK of the Swedish Elite League. One of the opponents he faced at AIK was young defenceman Niklas Lidstrom, who credited Salming with encouraging his own career.

National Hockey League

Salming made his NHL debut with the Leafs at the beginning of the 1973–74 NHL season against the Buffalo Sabres. After a 7–4 victory, Salming was named the best player of the game. By the end of the season, Salming had recorded 39 points.

Prior to Salming's arrival in the NHL, most North Americans considered European players too soft to play in the NHL. North American ice hockey was played in a more physical style on a smaller rink, and hockey fights were common, while European ice hockey emphasised speed and skill on a larger ice surface. NHL sources even referred to players from Sweden as "Chicken Swedes." Salming's strong performances helped to permanently eradicate that reputation.

On 26 November 1986, late in a game between the Leafs and the Red Wings in Detroit, Salming was knocked down in front of the Leafs net and Gerard Gallant of the Red Wings accidentally cut Salming's face with his skate blade. The injury required facial cosmetic surgery that involved more than 200 stitches.

On 4 January 1988, Salming became the first European born and trained player to appear in 1,000 career NHL games. In recognition of his achievement, on 27 January (in Salming's 1,011th game), he was gifted a car driven onto the ice by his parents and friend Inge Hammarström in a surprise pre-game ceremony, inspired by a similar ceremony given by the Philadelphia Flyers to Bill Barber.

In 1989, after 16 years with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he signed as a free agent with the Red Wings, for whom he played one season to finish his career in the NHL.

In the NHL, he played 1148 regular season games (1099 of them with the Leafs) and 81 playoff games, scoring totals of 150 goals and 637 assists. Salming was named a First Team All-Star in 1977, and was selected to the Second Team in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, and 1980. Salming spent 16 seasons with the Maple Leafs, recording 768 points (148 goals, 620 assists). The other Toronto players nicknamed him 'The King'.

International play

Salming had an extensive international playing career. He played for the Swedish national team at the 1972 and 1973 World Championships, winning a silver and bronze medal, respectively. He also played at the 1976, 1981, and 1984 Canada Cups, and the 1992 Winter Olympics. During the 1976 Canada Cup, which was held at Maple Leaf Gardens. Sweden faced Team USA in Toronto, Salming received a standing ovation. Salming later commented, "I'll never forget our game in Toronto. The fans gave me a standing ovation during the introductions. I was representing my country and Canadian fans gave me a standing ovation. Sometimes hockey has no country." In recognition of his international career, Salming was named to the IIHF Centennial All-Star Team in 2008, one of five players honoured.


Borje Salming
Salming with All-Star Legends 2008 in Toronto

After the end of his playing career, Salming launched an eponymous brand of sports underwear.

Personal life

Early in his career as a Leaf, Salming resided in the High Park neighbourhood in Toronto with his wife Margitta, a children's-wear designer; they later divorced.

In 2016, he married Pia Salming. Salming had four children: Theresa and Anders with first wife Margitta, and Rasmus and Bianca with his ex-partner Katarina. His daughter Bianca Salming is a heptathlete.

Health issues and death

In February 2022, Salming began to experience an unusual twitching motion in his muscles, which later forced him to prematurely exit an alumni game in March. In mid-July, Salming was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. On 10 August, Salming publicly revealed his diagnosis via a statement shared through the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. Following his diagnosis, Salming developed severe depression. Appearing in public on 17 October, for the first time since his diagnosis, Salming revealed that his condition had worsened: he had lost the ability to speak, requiring him to use a tablet computer for communication, and required a feeding tube for meals.

On 11 November 2022, despite his diagnosis, Salming made the annual trip to Toronto for the Maple Leafs' Hall of Fame induction weekend game, where he was part of an emotional pre-game moment where lifelong friend Darryl Sittler helped Salming wave to the crowd. The following night, the Maple Leafs honoured Salming in their game against the Vancouver Canucks, featuring a pre-game ceremony dedicated to the defender where a tearful Salming dropped the puck in the ceremonial face off. The Maple Leafs selected a unique starting line-up of six Swedish players to honour Salming's career.

The following week, on 17 November 2022, Salming was elected to the all-star team of the century and was awarded the NHL's Honorary Award at a ceremony in Sweden. Following the ceremony, Salming's wife announced that the event would be the family's final appearance.

One week later, on 24 November 2022, Salming died at the age of 71. His death made national headlines in Canada and in Sweden, with several organizations, athletes, and celebrities offering tributes to his life. For the remainder of the 2022–23 NHL season, the Maple Leafs will wear commemorative shoulder patches in Salming's honour, with the team also making several donations to ALS research. On 30 November 2022, a moment of silence was held at Scotiabank Arena to honour him during a game where the San Jose Sharks visited the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Honours and awards

Salming (5432050780)
Salming's exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame

In November 1996, Salming became the first Swedish player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2017, the NHL itself named Salming one of the '100 Greatest Players' in league history.

IIHF Centennial All Star Team Trophy (Team of the Century – Vladislav Tretjak, Börje Salming, Vjatjeslav Fetisov, Valerij Charlamov, Sergej Makarov and Wayne Gretzky
IIHF Centennial All Star Team Trophy (Team of the Century: Vladislav Tretiak, Börje Salming, Viacheslav Fetisov, Valeri Kharlamov, Sergei Makarov and Wayne Gretzky).

On 4 October 2006, Salming's no. 21 was honoured by the Leafs in a ceremony, along with Red Kelly's and Hap Day's no. 4, before their first game of the 2006–07 season.


  • Salming holds six career and single season Toronto Maple Leaf records including most career points by a defenceman, most career goals by a defenceman, most career assists (any position), most assists in a season by a defenceman, and best career plus-minus.
  • First Swedish (and European) player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

  • Reference:
    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1967–68 Kiruna AIF SWE II 8
1968–69 Kiruna AIF SWE II 13
1969–70 Kiruna AIF SWE II 16 5 5
1970–71 Brynäs IF SWE 14 0 5 5 6 13 2 1 3 16
1971–72 Brynäs IF SWE 14 1 1 2 20 14 0 4 4 30
1972–73 Brynäs IF SWE 14 2 3 5 20 12 3 1 4 24
1973–74 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 76 5 34 39 48 4 0 1 1 4
1974–75 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 60 12 25 37 34 7 0 4 4 6
1975–76 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 78 16 41 57 70 10 3 4 7 9
1976–77 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 76 12 66 78 46 9 3 6 9 6
1977–78 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 80 16 60 76 70 6 2 2 4 6
1978–79 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 78 17 56 73 76 6 0 1 1 8
1979–80 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 74 19 52 71 94 3 1 1 2 2
1980–81 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 72 5 61 66 154 3 0 2 2 4
1981–82 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 69 12 44 56 170
1982–83 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 69 7 38 45 104 4 1 4 5 10
1983–84 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 68 5 38 43 192
1984–85 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 73 6 33 39 176
1985–86 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 41 7 15 22 48 10 1 6 7 14
1986–87 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 56 4 16 20 42 13 0 3 3 14
1987–88 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 66 2 24 26 82 6 1 3 4 8
1988–89 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 63 3 17 20 86
1989–90 Detroit Red Wings NHL 49 2 17 19 52
1990–91 AIK IF SEL 36 4 9 13 46
1991–92 AIK IF SEL 38 6 14 20 98 3 0 2 2 6
1992–93 AIK IF SEL 6 1 0 1 10
SWE totals 42 3 9 12 46 39 5 6 11 70
NHL totals 1,148 150 637 787 1,344 81 12 37 49 91
SEL totals 80 11 23 34 154 3 0 2 2 6


  • Reference:
Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1968 Sweden EJC 5 1 0 1 4
1969 Sweden EJC 5 0 0 0 8
1972 Sweden WC 4 0 0 0 6
1973 Sweden WC 10 4 6 10 4
1976 Sweden CC 5 4 3 7 2
1981 Sweden CC 5 0 2 2 10
1989 Sweden WC 8 1 1 2 8
1991 Sweden CC 6 0 0 0 10
1992 Sweden OG 8 4 3 7 4
Junior totals 10 1 0 1 12
Senior totals 46 13 15 28 48

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Börje Salming para niños

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