This is Borje Salming, the Toronto Maple Leafs Hall of Fame defenseman. He may not have been the greatest player of all time, but his legacy suggests he was arguably the most important.
While a handful of Europeans preceded him, Borje Salming was the National Hockey League’s first great European player. By doing so he quickly diminished stereotypes and blazed the trail for more Swedes and all Europeans to come the NHL. The impact was far reaching, and still being explored today.
The influence of the European skill game took hockey from the dark era of 1970s goon hockey to a more skilled game that has evolved into what we have today. The league that was once ruled by hard working, small town Canadian boys was greatly enhanced by influx of European players and their different schools of the sport. The acceptance of the European player, thanks in large part to Salming's play, has also greatly enhanced hockey’s global status, spurring on generations of new players and fans worldwide. Fans and future stars on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean worshiped the likes of Pavel Bure, Jari Kurri, Peter Forsberg, Niklas Lidstrom and Alexander Ovechkin.
One of the most prized items up for bids at ClassicAuctions.net's new collection is a game worn jersey from his rookie season, complete with an certificate of authentication. Game worn jerseys of this era are pretty rare, as teams tended to use the same jersey for many games at a time. To get a Salming game worn from his rookie season would be a real find.