Börje Salming has died in the suites of ALS.
Now he is mourned by an entire hockey world that remembers the hard-fighting Swede who became a pioneer when he took the step to the NHL in 1973.
Darryl Sittler, who was Salming's longtime teammate in Toronto and a good friend since 50 years ago, received the news this morning from Börje Salming's family in Sweden.
- It's sad and it's such a terrible disease.
We get to remember all the good things about Börje, he says.
Darryl Sittler then highlights Börje's humanity and humility.
- He was very humble.
I mean, he was king in Sweden, right?
He was an ordinary and humble guy, says Sittler and continues:
- Börje was just Börje.
He came from northern Sweden and never changed and we love that about him.
He was a good friend and a very good teammate.
Nicklas Lidström, who met Börje Salming at the "Tidernas hockey gala" as recently as just over a week ago, mourns.
- When you wanted to be a hockey star yourself and dreamed of going to the NHL, Börje was my big idol.
Then when you got to know Börje after his career, you got to see what an incredibly warm and caring person he was.
It really is a heavy heart on a day like this, says Lidström to Radiosporten.
"An incredible player"
Former ice hockey player Anders Hedberg, who played with Salming in Tre Kronor, is noticeably taken when he answers:
- It went so damn fast.
My legs are shaking, but I'm damn happy that Börje was able to share in all the tributes in Toronto and that I got to be with him and hug him.
But it went so fast.
I will remember him as a damn good guy and an incredible player, says Anders Hedberg to TT.
Former national team captain and great player Bengt-Åke Gustafsson played with Salming in the 1992 Olympics. He explains what Börje Salming meant to Swedish ice hockey:
- It is tragic.
He has meant a lot to Swedish ice hockey.
Börje opened all doors and was a great role model for many.
We played together for a long time, including at the Olympics.
It was great and powerful when everyone lined up to pay tribute to him in Canada.
It was completely surreal that an entire country pays tribute to a Swede, says Gustafsson to TT.
Inge Hammarström has been good friends with Börje Salming for 50 years and they moved to Toronto together in 1973. Hammarström tells Dagens Nyheter that he will remember his friend as a strong-willed and inspiring person.
- It is extremely sad.
Shocking, while knowing that it was only a matter of time.
We have been almost like brothers.
I remember when he came here to Brynäs and we older players both took care of him and were so happy that we had such an incredible talent in our team, he says.