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Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman and Hockey Hall of Famer Borje Salming has been diagnosed with ALS at the age of 71.
Salming released a statement through the team on Wednesday.
“I received news that shocked my family and me. The signs that something was wrong with my body turned out to be ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Salming said.
“In an instant, everything changed. I don’t know how the next days will be, but I understand that there are bigger challenges than anything I’ve ever faced. I recognize that there is no cure but there are many trials going on around the world. And one day there will be a cure. In the meantime, there are treatments available to slow down the progression and My family and I remain positive.”
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Salming played 16 years for the Maple Leafs and appeared in 1,099 games, scoring 768 points. His 768 points are the fourth-most in Maple Leafs franchise history.
“Since I started playing ice hockey in Kiruna (Sweden) as a young kid and throughout my career, I have given it my all and I will continue to do so.”
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Salming is honored at the Toronto Maple Leafs Legend Row memorial outside the team’s arena.
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“In recent decades, we have learned more about the cause of ALS and it has been shown that ALS is not a single disease. Rather, ALS is probably a collection of subgroups that lead to the same symptom picture,” Börje Salming’s physician, Dr. Caroline Ingrey said in a statement.
Currently, there are 800 patients living in Sweden with ALS, and 250 Swedes receive an ALS diagnosis each year.