Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming diagnosed with ALS

Toronto Maple Leafs icon Borje Salming shared his ALS diagnosis on Wednesday. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs icon Borje Salming shared his ALS diagnosis on Wednesday. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming, who spent 16 seasons with the franchise in the 1970s and 1980s, has shared some saddening news about his health.

Salming announced that he's been diagnosed with ALS — which is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

ALS — or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — is a disease that attacks the nervous system and affects the body’s muscle control, leading to paralysis.

As of now there is no cure.

Salming wrote, via team release:

"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, 71, is a Hockey Hall of Famer and one of 14 former Maple Leafs immortalized on Legends Row outside Scotiabank Arena. The Swede ranks third on the franchise's all-time games played list, appearing in 1,099 contests with the Blue and White, scoring 150 goals and 787 points in his NHL career.

Salming, whose No. 21 is retired by the Maple Leafs, remains the franchise's all-time leader in goals and points among defencemen.

As one of the first Europeans to have a major impact at the NHL level, Salming is considered one of the key trailblazers in NHL history, helping create the path for players from overseas.

Salming was also named as one of the NHL's top 100 players in history as part of the league's centennial celebration.

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