Borje Salming, legendary NHL defenseman and trailblazer of European-born players in North America, has died. He was 71 years old and had been diagnosed with ALS earlier this year.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, for whom Salming played the bulk of his career, released a statement on Thursday to announce Salming's passing.

"The Toronto Maple Leafs mourn the loss of Börje Salming," said Leafs' President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan.