The Toronto Maple Leafs added defenseman Borje Salming and center Mats Sundin, the first two Swedish-born players to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, to their Legends Row at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.
Sundin and Salming are the fourth and fifth players to have their statues added to the monument, joining forwards Ted Kennedy and Darryl Sittler, and goaltender Johnny Bower. Forwards Syl Apps and George Armstrong were announced in February as 2015 Legends Row inductees; their statues will be unveiled in November during Hockey Hall of Fame induction weekend.
Salming joined Toronto in 1973 and spent 16 of his 17 NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs, scoring 148 goals and finishing with 768 points in 1,099 games before ending his career with the Detroit Red Wings in 1989-90. His 620 assists are a Maple Leafs record, and he was a First or Second Team All-Star for six consecutive seasons, from 1974-75 through 1979-80.
Salming was also a pioneer; he was the first high-profile defenseman from Europe to become an NHL star and paved the way for numerous players from Scandinavia to prosper in North America. One of them was Sundin, who became the first European-born player taken with the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft when the Quebec Nordiques chose him in 1989.
“Borje Salming and Mats Naslund at the time were my idols growing up," Sundin said Thursday after the Maple Leafs announced he would be joining Salming on Legends Row. "For me to be a part of Legends Row together with Borje, it's obviously tough to take in, as well. But it's a great honor."
Toronto acquired Sundin from the Nordiques on June 28, 1994. He spent 13 seasons with the Maple Leafs, playing 981 games, and set franchise records for goals (420) and points (987). He served as captain for 11 years, retired in 2009 and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012, his first season of eligibility.
Sundin scored more NHL goals (564) and points (1,346) than any other Swedish-born player. He is the only player from Sweden to score 500 goals in the NHL.
The Maple Leafs honored Sundin by raising his No. 13 to the Air Canada Centre rafters on Feb. 11, 2012.