Remembering Borje Salming: “King” of Maple Leafs’ Defensemen

Borje Salming performed 16 seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1973 to 1989. In his greater than 1,000 common season video games (1,099 to be precise), he scored 148 objectives and 620 assists for 768 factors. Extra exceptional, he ended his Maple Leafs profession with a plus-minus of plus-155. What makes that top plus-minus so exceptional is that, throughout his final ten seasons with the Maple Leafs, the workforce was horrible, seldom near having a successful season.

In the course of the 1976-77 season, Salming set profession highs in assists (66), factors (78), plus-minus (plus-45), and was a finalist for the Norris Trophy (he misplaced to the Montreal Canadiens’ Larry Robinson). Curiously, he was additionally a finalist for the Norris Trophy once more in 1979-80 however once more misplaced to Robinson. After Salming left the Maple Leafs, he performed a ultimate NHL season with the Detroit Purple Wings and three extra seasons within the Swedish Elite League earlier than retiring in 1993.

What Salming Means to the Maple Leafs

How a lot does Salming imply to the Maple Leafs? To followers who watched him play, it’s no shock {that a} banner along with his likeness, identify, and quantity (21) hangs within the rafters of the Scotiabank Area. He holds the franchise file for all-time assists. In 1996, he grew to become the primary Swedish participant inducted into the Corridor of Fame.

Swedish-born skilled hockey participant Borge Salming, defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, on the ice throughout a sport, Eighties. (Photograph by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Photos)

Because the story goes, the Maple Leafs didn’t learn about Salming once they went to scout Inge Hammarstrom in Sweden in 1973. However, when scout Gerry McNamara went to see Hammarstrom, he additionally noticed Salming in the identical sport. After the sport, McNamara burst into the workforce’s dressing room with one query for Salming: “Do you wish to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs?”

The remainder is historical past. In his first sport with the workforce, Toronto defeated the Buffalo Sabres 7-4 and Salming was voted the primary star. On the finish of his rookie season, he had scored 39 factors, wonderful numbers for a defenseman.

Associated: Maple Leafs Trivia

Adjusting to the North American Recreation

When Salming joined the Maple Leafs in 1973, there have been few Swedish NHL gamers. The Summit Sequence occurred in 1972, and Canadian gamers had gained a popularity as being very bodily. Salming, as an NHL trailblazer, took his lumps. Each Salming and Hammarstrom knew what was coming once they signed to play with the Maple Leafs.

In a TSN interview in Nov. 2014, upon revealing that his statue can be the fourth statue within the Maple Leafs’ Legends Row, Salming remembered, “That was a part of the sport. We knew that once I was coming over, me and Inge Hammarstrom.” However, he added, “I don’t assume we knew it was going to be that tough prefer it was to start with of the ’70s. That wasn’t the best way we performed in Europe. However you needed to modify.”

Borge Salming
BOSTON, MA – 1970’s: Borge Salming #21 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates in opposition to the Boston Bruins at Boston Backyard. (Photograph by Steve Babineau/NHLI through Getty Photos)

Nonetheless, Salming remembers fondly taking part in with the Maple Leafs: “Taking part in within the ’70s was implausible, we had such a very good workforce,” he mentioned of the Leafs. “I performed with Lanny (McDonald) and Darryl (Sittler), and Tiger (Williams). It was nice instances. However within the ’80s too, in fact.” It’s not shocking that Salming handed over the ’80s because it was a tricky time to play in Toronto. The workforce had a dropping file in each season Salming performed in that decade.

Associated: Darryl Sittler – Toronto Maple Leafs Legend

Salming Led the Staff in Stitches

One nearly disastrous occasion is famous in Salming’s profession. In a hockey “melee” in 1986, Purple Wings ahead Gerard Gallant by accident stepped on Salming’s face along with his skate. The consequence was a 250-stitch slash and a lingering scar. When Salming returned to the line-up two weeks later, he wore a visor.

A Sportsnet report famous the irony in Salming’s most outstanding scar being unintentional, given all of the malicious intent directed his method. Nevertheless, the report recommended that Salming’s “neck by no means suffered underneath the pressure of fixed cheek-turning. The person nicknamed “King” had the power of a horse and the physique fats of a greyhound, and he definitely didn’t hesitate to reciprocate a few of the particular remedy he was receiving.”

Salming Remembers and Is Remembered

When Salming’s statue was positioned within the workforce’s Legends Row, he was the fourth former Maple Leaf to be so enshrined. His bronze statue stands alongside Maple Leafs’ luminaries Darryl Sittler, Ted Kennedy, Johnny Bower, George Armstrong, Syl Apps, Mats Sundin, Dave Keon, Turk Broda, Tim Horton, Charlie Conacher, Purple Kelly, Frank Mahovlich, and Wendel Clark.

As Salming mentioned in a press launch, “Sporting the Toronto Maple Leaf sweater for 16 seasons was an awesome honour, however to be acknowledged amongst a few of the high gamers with a statue on Legends Row — particularly with my teammate Darryl Sittler — is one thing I couldn’t have imagined.” He added, “I at all times look again on my time in Toronto with fondness and benefit from the likelihood to go to each likelihood I get.”

On twitter, Chris Johnston famous that Mike Babcock’s favourite Maple Leaf’s participant rising up was Borje Salming. Babcock mentioned, “I believed he was an unbelievable participant and warrior. Simply unbelievable, really.”

George Armstrong, a 21-season Maple Leaf participant and the captain of 4 Stanley Cup-winning Maple Leafs groups, mentioned of Salming: “He was probably the most gifted participant to ever put on the Toronto Maple Leafs uniform.”

Lastly, fellow Swede Mats Sundin, the previous captain who started his hockey profession in Salming’s hockey faculty in Sweden, notes, “Each Swede respects Borje and pays him tribute for what he has accomplished. For us – Swedish hockey gamers – he’s the person who confirmed us the correct method; he’s a trailblazer.”

In Abstract

Salming was one of many first European gamers to influence the NHL. He was one of many high defensemen of his period and was inducted into the Hockey Corridor of Fame in 1996. In a 2017 ballot, he was named one of many “100 Biggest NHL Gamers” in historical past. That’s his NHL abstract.

Maybe the greatest Maple Leafs abstract was the followers’ appreciation. One of many biggest recorded standing ovations in sports activities historical past occurred within the Maple Leaf Gardens through the 1976 Canada Cup, simply earlier than Salming’s Staff Sweden performed Staff USA.s’ Nevertheless, it received’t final so long as Salming’s stellar popularity in Toronto.

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