BorjeFor an even better read on Borje Salming, go here.
Salming was one of the best in the game at both ends of the ice, but was also a distinctly honourable gentleman throughout his career. In an era that saw bitter ends to the Maple Leaf careers of Vaive, Sittler, and Keon, Salming was the embodiment of loyalty, representing the Blue and White extremely well, particularly through some very dark seasons. He was pure class, and remains one of my favourite players of all-time.
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996. The first European player to play in 1,000 NHL games. Third most games played in a Maple Leafs uniform(1,099). Highest scoring Maple Leafs defenceman of all-time in Points(768), Goals(148), and Assists(620). Fourth overall in Points at any position, behind only Sundin(987), Sittler(916), and Keon(858). Most career Assists by a Maple Leaf at any position. The highest career plus/minus total of any Maple Leaf player, an incredible +155.
Also has the strange distinction of having been on the ice for the most goals total, for and against, of any NHL player in the 1983-84 campaign. On the ice for 182 goals either way in just 68 games, Salming was a minus-34 that year. He was then a minus-26 the following season as well, making the plus 155 career total that much more astounding. Wipe out those two disastrous Ballard-era seasons, and Borje's plus/minus is a staggering 215 over 14 seasons.
Salming is a three-time winner of the obscure and highly secretive Viking Award, given to the best Swedish player in North America, as voted by the players. Mats Sundin is the only player to win the award four times. Daniel Alfredsson has never won the award, or like most of us, ever even heard about it.
Borje played 16 seasons for Toronto before finishing his career in Detroit for one season in 1989-90, scoring a modest but respectable 19 points in 49 games. The lesson is: Loyalty only goes so far without winning, and what will be, will eventually be. Legendary careers should still be remembered and celebrated, however only a championship makes a Hall of Famer truly indisposable to a city. Having witnessed Sundin's career wind down melodramatically, his legacy somewhat diminished, in Vancouver, and with Kaberle still with us and entering the final year of his contract, it seemed appropriate to reflect on the career of Borje Salming, and realize even he finished his NHL career in a different uniform, in front of fans that likely didn't appreciate the significance.
"Every Swede respects Borje and pays him tribute for what he has done. For us - Swedish hockey players - he is the man who showed us the right way; he is a trailblazer."
-Mats SundinSo cheers to long journeys and old acquaintances!