'Borje Salming' chants break out during Swedish hockey game in touching tribute

Toronto Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming died at the age of 71 on Nov. 24. (Jimmy Wixtrom/Aftonbladet)
Toronto Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming died at the age of 71 on Nov. 24. (Jimmy Wixtrom/Aftonbladet)

It’s impossible to capture what legendary defenceman Borje Salming meant to not only the Toronto Maple Leafs and the broader NHL, but the entire hockey world.

A touching tribute in his native Swedish Hockey League on Thursday, however, perhaps exemplifies just a sliver of the reverence the Kiruna native was held in back home.

During a game between Brynas IF and Leksands IF, fans showed their love midway through the second period when they began chanting the Hockey Hall of Famers name impromptu.

While the game was played in Leksands, Salming does hold a particularly special place in the heart of visiting Brynas fans. Prior to being noticed by then-Toronto Maple Leafs scout Gerry McNamara, Salming had played his three prior seasons with the club between 1970-1973, winning titles in 1971 and 1972.

Sweden’s defenceman of the year award also bears Salming’s name. In 1996, he also became the first Swedish and European player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Brynas had also previously announced plans to hold a "Game for Börje" in February, an exhibition match that will feature veterans from Team Sweden facing off against Toronto Maple Leafs alumni in support of ALS.

Across the Swedish hockey league, moments of silence were held before the second period of action since news of his death arrived after puck-drop.

In the wake of Salming’s tragic death at age 71 due to ALS, tributes from around the hockey world have made their way to the Salming family. From former teammates to voices beyond the hockey world, the man affectionately known as "The King" touched many hearts over the years.

Heartbroken fans from across Twitter also shared their condolences, and what Salming meant for them.

Salming spent 16 of his 17 NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs, compiling 787 points over 1,148 career regular-season games, which ranks sixth all-time among Swedish players. He holds six Maple Leafs records, including most assists, goals, points and playoff points by a defenceman, along with most career assists and best plus-minus.

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