September's launch of the Toronto Maple Leafs 'Legends Row', a monument to honour some of the greatest players in team history, saw two centremen inducted in Darryl Sittler and Ted Kennedy alongside goaltender Johnny Bower. Today the team announced that the man many view as the best defensemen in team history, Borje Salming, would be the fourth statue added in September, 2015.
Salming spent 16 seasons in a Maple Leaf sweater where his strong two-way play put him among the elite defencemen in the game and made him one of the most popular players in team history. After being discovered playing in Sweden by scout Gerry McNamara, Salming joined Toronto in 1973 and made an immediate impact, earning NHL Second All-Star Team honours in his sophomore season before going on to a Hall of Fame career.
"In addition to being one of the all-time Toronto Maple Leaf greats, Borje Salming deserves credit for helping to open the doors in the NHL for many of the European players that followed," said Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan. "Borje was offensively gifted but he was especially loved by Toronto fans for his toughness and he will make an outstanding addition to Legends Row."
Salming will be one of three or more statues that will be added to Legends Row next September after being determined by the Toronto Maple Leafs Historical Committee.
"Wearing the Toronto Maple Leaf sweater for 16 seasons was a great honour, but to be recognized among some of the top players with a statue on Legends Row, especially with my teammate Darryl Sittler, is something I couldn't have imagined," said Salming. "I always look back on my time in Toronto with fondness and enjoy the chance to visit every chance I get. The chance to come back for the statue unveiling next September with my family will be very special."
In 1,019 games with the Leafs, Salming totaled 137 goals and 738 points and added an additional 12 goals and 49 points in 81 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He was voted to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1977, the Second All-Star Team on five occasions, and was the first player from Sweden to be named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996. Salming holds five Maple Leaf franchise records including most assists with 620 and a plus/minus record of +155.
Salming finished second in voting for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman in 1976-77 and again in 1979-80. In international play as a Leaf, Salming represented Sweden in the 1976 and 1981 Canada Cups and also participated in the World Hockey Championships in 1972, 1973 and 1982.
After playing his final season in the NHL with Detroit, and three more seasons with AIK of the Swedish Elite League, Salming retired in 1993. In October, 2006, Salming's #21 was honoured and raised to the rafters at Air Canada Centre.