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Iconic Maple Leafs defenceman Börje Salming dies at 71

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cbc.ca

Legendary NHL defenceman Börje Salming, who was a fixture on the Toronto Maple Leafs' blue line for 16 years, has died. He was 71 years old.

The Maple Leafs announced Salming's death Thursday afternoon. "Börje was a pioneer of the game and an icon with an unbreakable spirit and unquestioned toughness," President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan said in a statement. "He helped open the door for Europeans in the NHL and defined himself through his play on the ice and through his contributions to the community. "Börje joined the Maple Leafs 50 years ago and will forever be a part of our hockey family.

We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Pia, his children Theresa, Anders, Rasmus, Bianca, Lisa and Sara, and brother Stieg." Salming was diagnosed with the progressive nervous system disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, earlier this year.

Salming had been receiving treatment in his native Sweden. A pioneering European star from the northern Swedish town of Kiruna, Salming played 1,099 games with the Leafs and ranks fourth among the team's career scoring leaders with 768 points.

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