Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming diagnosed with ALS

0

“You admire his physique, his physical form…and then you get a call like this,” Darryl Sittler said.

Content of the article

He is considered the ageless Leaf, at 71, often seen pursuing the outdoor pursuits of a man over half his age.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

“We get together every March or April and it looks like he can still play,” Darryl Sittler marveled. “You admire his physique, his physical form…and then you get a call like this.”

A few weeks ago, Borje Salming shared the astonishing news with those close to him who were very close to the 1970s Leafs. Mysterious problems the Hall of Fame defender was experiencing throughout his body sent him to see a specialist at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

Content of the article

“I received news that shook my family and me. The signs that indicated something was wrong with my body turned out to be ALS disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease,” Salming said through the Leafs on Wednesday. “In an instant, everything changed. I don’t know how the days ahead will be, but I understand that there will be challenges greater than anything I have ever faced.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

“I also recognize that there is no cure, but there are many trials going on around the world and there will be a cure one day. In the meantime, there are treatments to slow the progression and my family and I we will stay positive.

Borje Salming (right) celebrates with Darryl Sittler after Sittler scored five goals in a 1976 Maple Leafs 8-5 win over Philly.
Borje Salming (right) celebrates with Darryl Sittler after Sittler scored five goals in a 1976 Maple Leafs 8-5 win over Philly.

Salming last played for the Leafs in 1989, but was never separated from his lifelong friends at the Maple Leaf Gardens era, led by Sittler, Lanny McDonald and Tiger Williams.

“Borje is a wonderful friend and a great teammate,” Sittler said. “I’d like to talk about something else today. We’ve been in touch; me, Borje, guys like Lanny and Tiger and we all knew that today (breaking the news to the rest of the world) would be the most difficult and most devastating for him and for us.

” We talked. If you can imagine that was said to you or me…he was very emotional.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

Still, a Leaf Salming played with very briefly, Mark Kirton, was the first Sittler thought to share the news with, to be a great ally in the fight to come.

Kirton was also diagnosed with ALS in 2018 after first experiencing symptoms three years earlier. Although now in a wheelchair, the 64-year-old helped Salming absorb the shock with his immediate family and guided him to an understanding of the slowly progressing medications available to begin administering urgently.

“I told him, ‘King, the name of the game is survival until they find a cure,'” Kirton said. “You have a great support system here and with your family.

Former NHL player Mark Kirton has ALS and still runs his real estate business in Oakville.
Former NHL player Mark Kirton has ALS and still runs his real estate business in Oakville. Photo by submitted /Toronto Sun

Kirton, Sittler and the Leafs have been working for the past few days to craft Wednesday’s outing, simultaneously in Canada and Sweden, in which an upbeat-sounding Salming also requested confidentiality.

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

“At this time, I am assured that I have my loving family around me and the best possible medical care. Please keep us in your prayers.

Salming is a grandfather and when others around him don’t post about his toughness, he proudly highlights the sporting tradition carried by a new generation of the clan.

Pioneering the European migration to the NHL with teammate Inge Hammarstrom in 1973, Salming quickly became a Leafs favorite, one of the few bright spots in the years the team rarely made the playoffs. He earned respect from afar for withstanding punishment, from shooting blocks to enemies determined to beat him as a perceived pacifist in a violent time in the sport.

Yet he played more than 1,000 games in Toronto and kept himself in such good shape that he was often compared to the 60-year-old Swede in government Participaction ads as being as good or better than the youngsters. Canadians. Salming survived numerous injuries, including a horrific cut to the face from a skate blade that required over 200 stitches and just missed an eye.

Advertising 6

Content of the article

Borje Salming honored as the next statue on the Legends row.  The Toronto Maple Leafs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Air Canada Center in Toronto on Friday, November 14, 2014. Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
Borje Salming honored as the next statue on the Legends row. The Toronto Maple Leafs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Air Canada Center in Toronto on Friday, November 14, 2014. Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

Two years ago he had a medical episode where he couldn’t breathe and was put in an ambulance, but it was attributed to COVID-19 and he was released after one night.

Much like Kirton, who suddenly started feeling twitches in his biceps while vacationing in the Bahamas, it was a quick turn for the worse.

“The good news from a family perspective is that he doesn’t have the genetics (familial ALS) that accounts for 5% of cases,” Kirton said. “The most important thing now is that he gets all the drugs available as soon as possible from the start.”

Patients with sporadic ALS, which Kirton and Salming treat, typically have an average lifespan of two to five years, although the disease can affect people differently with longer survival rates. Kirton recalled how devastated he and his wife were to learn of his condition, but he maintained a vow not to dampen his mental positivity.

Advertising 7

Content of the article

Kirton regularly meets via Zoom calls with 25-30 ALS patients of all ages, as well as personal caregivers, forming ALS Action Canada to give those affected a stronger voice in pushing for new treatment approvals and funding.

In the meantime, Kirton sent his old friend an encouraging tweet on Wednesday.

“I reminded Borje that he taught me the can-opener move one day in practice to get the cross out in the corner,” laughed Kirton. “He taught me well how to get away with it and now I’ve told him ‘don’t worry, we have that too’.”

Toronto Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming with his Legends Row statue outside Scotiabank Arena on September 12, 2015.
Toronto Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming with his Legends Row statue outside Scotiabank Arena on September 12, 2015. Photo by Dave Thomas /Toronto Sun

FULL SALMING STATEMENT

“I received news that shook my family and me.

“The signs that indicated something was wrong with my body turned out to be ALS disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In an instant, everything changed. I don’t know how the days ahead will be, but I understand that there will be challenges greater than anything I have ever faced.

Advertising 8

Content of the article

“I also recognize that there is no cure, but there are many trials going on around the world and there will be a cure one day. In the meantime, there are treatments to slow the progression and my family and I we will stay positive.

“Since I started playing ice hockey when I was little in Kiruna, and throughout my career, I gave it my all. And I will continue to do so.

“Right now, I’m assured that I have my loving family around me and the best possible medical care.

“I understand that many of you wish to contact us, but I ask that you please respect our privacy during these difficult times. Please keep us in your prayers. When the time is right and I better understand my condition and my future trip I will contact you so until then we refrain from any contact.

“I hope you understand and respect our decision.”

Advertisement 1

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. See our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Share.

Comments are closed.