For such a legendary player in Maple Leafs franchise history, Borje Salming has maintained a low profile since retiring from the game.
The reason for that is simple. Since ending his 17-year playing career in 1990, Toronto's all-time assists leader and third all-time leading scorer has been living in his native Sweden, involved in numerous business enterprises.
But Salming will be in Toronto this weekend and on the ice for the Leafs Alumni team in the Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Game, presented by Esso, on November 11 at Air Canada Centre.
| Borje Salming was a six-time NHL All-Star and an inspiration to many young hockey players. |
"I decided to come back and to meet my old teammates, but also to attend the Hall of Fame induction and enjoy the game in Toronto," Salming told mapleleafs.com earlier this week. "What I'm most looking forward to is catching up with some of my old Leaf teammates."
Salming does not stay in touch with his former Leaf mates so much these days, but he does remember his time with the club well.
"My fondest memory is generally when I played in the 70s with the team. We had a great team and were not far from the Stanley Cup."
He is able to follow the current edition of the Leafs at home where most of the games are on television, but Salming's greatest tie-in to the current Leafs is the inspiration he provided to a generation of young hockey players in his own country.
On today's Leaf roster, Salming's countrymen speak in glowing terms about his status. Mats Sundin
has spoken often about how Salming was his childhood hockey hero while the Leaf captain's linemates, Jonas Hoglund and Mikael Renberg, also drew motivation by the legendary Leaf.
"He was a big inspiration for a lot of Swedish players," said Hoglund. "He was the first big European player and all the guys tested him and he battled through. He was huge, and still is."
When asked about now performing for the same team where Salming made his mark, Renberg beamed and acknowledged, "That's really neat. I've met him a couple times and it's just nice to get to know him a bit."
Salming himself seems to take it in stride when asked about his role for the younger generation of hockey players.
"Yes, it is nice when people tell you about that."
These days Salming works with his own products using his famous name to build upon. He is involved in a line of Salming underwear, eyeglasses, watches, floor hockey equipment and a company that imports wine, beer and spirits.
But it is the spirit of seeing the skilled and graceful Borje Salming on the ice one more time that will provide the greatest moment when the Legends gather one more time.
Tickets for the 2001 Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Game are priced at $25 for the lower bowl and $15 for the upper bowl of Air Canada Centre. Tickets are available at the Air Canada Centre box office, Ticketmaster charge by phone at (416) 870-8000 or online
>>Here is the complete list of confirmed players for the Legends Game
, led by Salming, Darryl Sittler and Wendel Clark on the Leafs Alumni side, and this year's Hall of Fame induction class of Dale Hawerchuk, Jari Kurri, Mike Gartner and Slava Fetisov for the Legends team.