Toronto Maple Leafs' defenceman Borje Salming is shown in this undated file photo. Salming, who starred for the Toronto Maple Leafs over 16 NHL seasons, has died at 71 after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Staff

Hall of Fame defenceman Borje Salming dead at 71 after battle with ALS

Hall of Fame defenceman Borje Salming, who starred for the Toronto Maple Leafs over 16 NHL seasons, has died at 71 after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The Maple Leafs confirmed Salming’s death in a statement.

Team president Brendan Shanahan said Salming opened the door for Europeans in the NHL.

Toronto signed Salming as a free agent before the 1973-74 season.

The native of Kiruna, Sweden, went on to play 1,099 regular-season games with the Leafs, establishing team records for assists (620) and goals (148), points (768) and playoff points (49) by a defenceman.

Salming spent a 17th NHL season with the Detroit Red Wings before retiring after the 1989-90 season.