STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Toronto Maple Leafs great Borje Salming, who passed away on Thursday from nervous disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), succumbed unusually quickly to the disease less than four months after diagnosis, his doctor told Swedish broadcaster SVT.
Salming died at the age of 71 and became the first Swedish player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He announced in August that he had been diagnosed with ALS.
"We set the diagnose this summer, so it's only been four months. It was unusually fast," Caroline Ingre, an ALS researcher at Karolinska Institutet and Salming's doctor told SVT.
Despite his battle with ALS, Salming travelled to Toronto two weeks ago and was honoured with emotional tributes ahead of two games, including an entirely Swedish Maple Leafs starting lineup for the first time in the storied franchise's history.
Ingre said Salming's openness with his struggles with ALS had raised awareness and that it had already benefited others.
"More patients have contacted us and wished to participate in our drug studies, which is fantastic. So he has already contributed to several people's treatment," she said.
Salming's NHL career began in 1973 when he signed as a free agent with the Maple Leafs, where he spent 16 seasons before playing one season with the Detroit Red Wings.
(Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Josie Kao)