Borje Salming, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Hall of Fame defenseman who became the N.H.L.’s Swedish first star and pioneer of many European players who have revolutionized the league’s face, he passed away in Nacka (Sweden) on Thursday. He was 71.

The Leafs said the cause was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Gary Bettman is the N.H.L. Gary Bettman, N.H.L. Commissioner in a statement Salming “blazed the trail that many of the greatest players in N.H.L. history followed while shattering all of the stereotypes about European players that had been prevalent in a league populated almost entirely by North Americans before his arrival in 1973.”

Salming played for the Leafs 16 seasons, and with the Detroit Red Wings his last season. He was then named to the N.H.L.’s He was the first all-star in 1976-77, and the second in 1977-77. He was a two-time runner-up for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the league’s leading defenseman, finishing behind the Montreal Canadiens’ Larry Robinson each time. He was inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame as the first Swedish player.

“When they called me I was actually crying,” Salming recalled in a 2017 video For “100 Greatest N.H.L. Players presented by Molson Canadian.” “We showed Canadians we could play hockey.”

Salming played in 1,099 regular season games for Toronto and set a franchise record (620) for the most assists. He also registered the most goals (148), points (7688) and playoff points (49) by any Leafs defenseman. His teams did not make it to the Stanley Cup finals.

Salming was also a great shot blocker and was named one the 100 greatest N.H.L. players. In 2017, the league celebrated its centennial.

Anders Borje Salming was born in Kiruna (northern Sweden) on April 17, 1951. He was the son of Karin Salming and Erland Salming. When he was 5, his father died in a mine accident.

The Maple Leafs signed Salming in May 1973 after a scout spotted him and believed he could thrive in the North American style of hockey, which featured a hard-hitting game in contrast to the Europeans’ emphasis on finesse.

“Opponents abused him, his body was covered with welts, but he’d just say, ‘I’m fine, I’m OK,’” Lanny McDonald, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s chairman and an inductee as a player for his years with the Leafs, told N.H.L.com upon Salming’s death.

“You got a lot of cheap shots, but that was only part of the game,” Salming’s comments in the Molson Video

Salming was not the soft European hockey player of his time. In November 1986, his unprotected face absorbed a skate blade from Detroit’s Gerard Gallant, now the Rangers’ coach, when Gallant was knocked over a prone Toronto defenseman during a goal-mouth scramble at the Leafs’ net. The wound was closed with 250 stitches. Salming was back in action two weeks later wearing a visor.

Salming was a Swedish ice hockey player who represented Sweden at four International Ice Hockey Federation world championships as well as three Canada Cups. He also participated in the 1992 Winter Olympics. He was inducted into the federation’s Hall of Fame in 1998 and named to its centennial All-Star 2008 team It honored the six greatest players in international ice hockey history.

Salming flew to Toronto with his family from Sweden in November for additional medical treatment. He also attended Hall of Fame inductions there. The Salmings visited the Leafs’ Scotiabank Arena when Toronto faced the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 12. The Leafs displayed a video in tribute to Salming. Although ALS had left him severely disabled, he was able to drop the puck for a ceremonial game. To honor him, the Leafs had an all-Swedish lineup.

Salming’s No. The No. 21 jersey of Salming hangs from rafters at Scotiabank Arena.

Salming’s s survivors include his wife, Pia; their children Theresa, Anders, Rasmus, Bianca, Lisa and Sara; and a brother, Stig.

They wore patches in honor of Salming when the Leafs faced off against the Minnesota Wild in a road contest on Friday. They were featured “BORJE” In yellow letters, across a blue maple leaf with yellow crown. This is a representation of the colors in the Swedish flag. That crown was a reminder of Salming’s nickname: The King.