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Borje Salming
Borje Salming
Defenseman
Number: 21
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 193
Shoots: Left
Born: Apr 17, 1951
Birthplace: Kiruna, Sweden
Acquired: Signed as a free agent by Detroit on June 12, 1989.
It could be argued that every European player collecting a salary in the NHL today owes a share to Borje Salming. Way back in 1973, he opened the doors to North American professional hockey for his fellow countrymen. At that time, after the first Summit Series, Canadians and Americans had come to respect the disciples of the Soviet hockey school, but the Scandinavian players were nicknamed "Swedish chickens." The joke was based on Sweden's national colors, but no doubt it had a double meaning. Borje Salming helped eradicate that stereotype. Six years after he retired in North America, the name of the "King" - his nickname in Toronto - was immortalized in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Salming was the first Swede to be so honoured.

Salming ended up in Canada quite by accident. In 1973 the Toronto Maple Leafs were interested in a different Swede, the winger Inge Hammarstrom. Leafs scout Gerry McNamara, who happened to be in Sweden at the time, saw Salming in action and immediately called his boss in Canada to tell him about another Scandinavian genius. Salming was too modest. In his first game with the team, Toronto defeated Buffalo 7-4 and he was voted the best player. At the end of his first season, the Swedish rookie had 39 points - an excellent result for a defenseman.

In 16 seasons with Toronto, Salming made 620 assists (a club record) and scored 148 goals for 768 points. He was included on the First All-Star Team once and fives times on the Second All-Star Team, again a Toronto record. In 1980 he came up a few votes short for the Norris Trophy as the season's best defenseman. In the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs, only two players appeared in more games than Salming - George Armstrong and Tim Horton. The King appeared in 1,099 games. He added two goals and 17 assists to his personal scorecard after a season with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent. Afterward, the 39-year-old veteran returned home and played for three seasons with AIK of Solna. The owner of a brewery and a garment factory, Salming has since abandoned hockey for business.

Salming is remembered for his slalom rushes across the rink and his powerful wrist shots in the style of Bobby Orr, as well as for his tricky but accurate passes so typical of the European game. Al Arbour, the great coach who in the early 1980s led the New York Islanders four times to the Stanley Cup, once commented on Salming when he was at the peak of his career. He called him a great athlete with an ability to perform excellently on both defense and offense. Yet, for a hockey player capable of gaining points on the offensive, his eagerness to be a human shield and stop a slapshot was quite incredible. And he did it without much hesitation. Arbour saw him for the first time in Moscow in 1973 and was highly impressed with his performance back then. But when his own team went up against Toronto, he lamented all those same qualities that made Salming a great player.

Another of Salming's strengths was his phenomenal stamina. Even at 38, while Salming was playing out his last season in Toronto, he would spend 30 to 40 minutes on the ice per game. In 1986, in a game against the Detroit Red Wings, he was badly injured when his face was cut with a skate. In photos taken at the time, Salming looked like a character out of a horror movie. But three days later he was back on the ice.

If Salming is so loved in Canada, what does he mean to Swedes? Mats Sundin, the Toronto Maple Leafs captain who began his hockey career in Salming's school, says: "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."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59