Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming diagnosed with ALS

On Wednesday morning, Toronto Maple Leafs great Börje Salming announced that he had been diagnosed with ALS. Salming was a Leaf from 1973 to 1989, playing out nearly his entire career in a blue and white sweater.

“I have received news that has shaken my family and me,” wrote Salming, in a prepared statement.

“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.”

ALS is a progressive nervous system disease which affects nerve cells in both the brain and spinal cord. The disease causes the loss of muscle control, deteriorating the brain’s motor neurons.

“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,” the statement read.

“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.”

Fans were quick to take to the comments section of Maple Leaf’s Twitter account. They shared sentimental responses in support of the legend, along with photographs from meet and greets throughout the years.

Salming’s career spanned over 1,100 games, scoring 150 goals and collecting 637 assists over his 16-year career. He was named to the NHL’s second All-star team from 1975 to 1980, skipping out on 1977 when he was awarded first-team honours.

In October 2016, the Leafs rose his number 21 sweater to the rafters, along with honouring the great defenseman with a statue along “Legend’s Row,” just outside Scotiabank Arena.

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