“I have received news that has shaken my family and me,” Börje Salming shared through the Toronto Maple Leafs’ social media channels on Wednesday.
The former star defenceman who played nearly 1,100 games for Toronto through the 1970s and 80s has been diagnosed with ALS – a fatal neurological disease, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In a personally written statement he provided an update on his condition and an ask for thoughts and prayers and he and his family begin what he is calling the greatest challenge he has yet faced.
The 71-year-old is a member of the 1996 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame and skated in 1,148 games with the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. The blueliner has 150 goals and 787 regular season points to his name, and spent 16 years with Toronto, where he still sits third all-time in Leafs’ franchise history for games played, fourth in points and first in assists.
The Kiruna, Sweden product finishing his playing career in Detroit, before becoming the first Swedish player to enter the HHOF just a few years later.
Salming’s full statement is listed below:
“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.
Since I started playing ice hockey as a little kid in Kiruna, and throughout my career, I have given it my all. And I will continue to do so.
Right now, I rest assured that I have my loving family around me and the best possible medical care.
I understand that there are many of you that would like to reach out, however I kindly ask you to respect our privacy in these trying times.
Please keep us in your prayers.
When the time is right and I understand more about my condition and future journey, I will reach out. So, until such a time, we kindly refrain from all contact.
I hope you understand and respect our decision.”