Maple Leafs legend Salming diagnosed with ALS
Toronto Maple Leafs legend and trailblazer Borje Salming revealed Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The 71-year-old elaborated on his diagnosis in a statement issued through the team:
I have received news that has shaken my family and me. 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.
Salming's career spanned from 1973-90, and he played all but one of his 17 seasons with the Maple Leafs before retiring as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. The man affectionately known as "The King" was one of the best and most productive defensemen of his time, and he paved the way for future Swedish players making the jump to the NHL.
The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Salming in 1996, and the Leafs retired his No. 21 in 2008. He still holds several Maple Leafs franchise records, including most career goals and points by a defenseman and most career assists by any player. Salming also ranks fourth in club history in points with 768 in 1,099 games. He was voted one of the top 100 players in NHL history in 1997.
Salming also represented Sweden on numerous occasions, and the IIHF chose him as one of only six players on its Centennial All-Star team in 2008.
ALS is a degenerative disease that progressively affects muscle control and eventually leads to paralysis. There is currently no cure.